The Psycho-Sociology of Strategic Thought and Decision Making: Multi-Dimensional Analytical Models and the Decision to Invade Iraq: Iterations on a Theme. 2008

SOC 471       Contemporary Sociology       Dr. Niame Adele       Timothy Sipp           12/16/08

The Psycho-Sociology of Strategic Thought and Decision Making: Multi-Dimensional Analytical Models and the Decision to Invade Iraq: Iterations on a Theme.

Why did President George W. Bush decide to invade Iraq and how did he arrive at his decision? What was the nature of the discourse on policy and strategy within the Cabinet and the National Security Council? What theoretical models and analytical perspectives from political science, sociology and psychology informed this process and contributed to the decision to invade Iraq? Is there a coherent and definable structure for strategic thinking that is scalable from the individual level to the societal level? Can this structural understanding be applied to international relations and foreign policy?   

I will demonstrate that throughout the entire process of the determination to go to war that many dynamics came into play that cannot be explained by any one theoretical model or analytical perspective. I think that a hybridization of the spectrums of thought in theoretical modeling and the analytical perspectives across the disciplines of political science, sociology and psychoanalysis provides a more flexible and accurate rubric from which to perform this task. The political science perspectives discussed are: achieving the political objective through both the Realist and Liberal Internationalist lenses, and the decision making models of Allison and Zelikow. Understanding these complex socio-political dynamics with reference to the sociological theories that inform each model and perspective, as well as the parallels observed between the strategic political decision making process and the Freudian psychoanalytic structures of the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego, allows us a greater degree of clarity and access to the policy and strategy decision making process.

A nuanced assessment of the numerous and varied disciplines involved in rendering policies and strategies in American government reveals dominant patterns that emerge across the theoretical models and analytical perspectives. This observed confluence of previously competing metrics and methods promotes a holistic, coherent, internally consistent and balanced approach to the successful realization of the multi-dimensional and non-linear nature of decision-making across multiple actors, agencies and organizations.

The political science perspective of Realism has two distinct variances: Offensive and Defensive. Offensive Realism is concerned with the international Balance of Power and proposes “Hard Power” or military might to protect our interests and provide security. Defensive Realism stipulates a Balance of Threat in international relations and insists on “Soft Power”, comprised of diplomacy and economic influence, as its primary tool. The ties that bind these two sub-genres of political philosophy are the zero-sum world, the pursuit of hegemony and that unitary, rational state actors are involved. Realism is informed by the economic and social psychological theory of Rational Choice as applied to both individuals and microsociological systems. This presumed rationality asserts that a nation acts as a single entity of one mind and that they will seek to maximize their assets and minimize their liabilities. The inference here is that capability is the key to action, not character. In essence, means provides motive in the absence of any other direction.

The political science perspective of Liberalism is based on the Kantian concept of the “republic” and its three tenets. First is that the peaceful, liberal nation should be a republic, meaning that the citizens have rights that the government respects and that the population consents to being governed. He did not necessarily mean a democratically elected government. Kant’s second condition for “peaceful nations” is that republics should have market economies that are focused on the well-being of the people. “Third, Kant argued that international peace would result from the expansion of a ‘pacific union’ among republics. This would begin with mutual respect and peaceful resolution of disputes among fellow republics. Thereafter, the pacific union would widen as other states observed the benefits republics enjoyed and sought to join.” (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 36-39) Liberalism today translates as the desire to spread liberty, democracy, and prosperity around the world.

Now that we have introduced the political science perspectives of Realism and Liberalism, let’s investigate the theoretical models of political decision making and their sociological foundations. We will start with Allison and Zelikow’s decision making models for government. The Classical Model or Rational Actor Model also called Model I is informed by the sociological perspectives of Rational Choice and Functionalism. (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 26-48) Model I asserts that governmental action is a choice made by a unitary national actor that is seeking to maximize its assets and minimize its liabilities. Model I also assumes that a state actor will not act against its own interests. In order to make determinations a Model I actor considers: goals and objectives, options, consequences and then chooses; the higher the perceived cost the less likely the action, conversely, the lower the perceived cost the more likely the action. (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 391)

 The Organizational Behavior Model or Model II is informed by Social Constructionism and Functionalism. (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 163-185) Model II sees governmental action as organizational output. In this model there are shared powers between intra-governmental agencies with different agendas that are in part determined by the need to maintain their particular institutions and their specific cultures. Each organization has its own mission, methodology, and repertoire that characterize their desire and ability to act in any given situation. Governmental action is thus shaped by existing organizational capabilities, organizational priorities, and organizational culture specific to each agency. These traits limit government action to reactionary, small, incremental changes as new policy must work with older implementations. For this model, administrative feasibility is a top priority and is paired with long-term planning for directed change. Unchecked, this model could lead a government towards imperialist tendencies. (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 391)

Model III or the Governmental Politics Model suggests that governmental action is a political resultant of bargaining between various players with different goals and levels of power. These players’ actions are dependent on: their position in government, their personal goals and interests, their stakes or stand in a given situation, and looming deadlines. (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 391)  Each action is a product of a game that is defined by the goal or objective, the available action-channels and the rules of the game. “An action channel is a regularized means of taking governmental action on a specific kind of issue.” (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 300)  An action-channel that may lead to U.S. military intervention in another country has many constituents, but the president is the one that makes the decision based on input from his/her advisors. “Action-channels structure the game by pre-selecting the major players, determining their usual points of entrance into the game, and distributing particular advantages and disadvantages for each game.” (Allison and Zelikow: 1999. 301) In the foreign policy game, the president has the power to persuade his administration and the nation in pursuit of a political object that he/she determined to be of value.

I will use the multi-dimensional theoretical models presented by Allison and Zelikow to compliment the analytical frameworks of Realism and Liberalism to assess the policy and strategy debate in George W. Bush’s first administration. My assertion is that the onus for regime change was inherited from the Clinton administration due to the available action-channel that Clinton empowered with funds earmarked for Iraqi regime change.(Woodward: 2006. 10) This is consistent with Allison and Zelikow’s Model III of Governmental Politics and the Personified State in decision making. It is also, I argue a product of organizational behavior and therefore also addressed by Model II. However, the impetus for war with Iraq initiated with Dick Cheney after 9/11 and gained momentum as Cheney onboarded the President. This is also exemplary of Allison and Zelikow’s Model III theory of individual actors and the personified state. The president in turn set the military/intelligence machine in motion to discover his options for regime change in Iraq while maintaining perceptions of legitimacy on the world stage; this is exemplary of Allison and Zelikow’s RAM I theory of the Unitary, Rational State-Actor as a projection of a national “self” to be consumed by other rational state actors.

Allison and Zelikow offer us a theoretical model of assessing Realism, Liberalism and the decision making process in their book “Essence of Decision”.  The RAM I or Rational Actor Model I consists of rational state actors who are looking to maximize their assets and minimize their liabilities and will not exhibit counter-productive behaviors or act against their interests. At this basic level of assessment we can assume that the rational state actor has political objectives in the pursuit of maximizing their assets. These political objectives are the national interests of an actor, or the needs and desires of that national but singular entity. As a singular entity with needs and desires one can apply the well-known framework of Freudian psychoanalysis to this microsociological system and realize the parallels of the political objective, regardless of whether or not the objective is considered Realist or Liberal, to the Id and the projection of our collective will.

The cost benefit analyses commensurate with evaluating the political objective(s) are the next step of strategic consideration. This process involves an assessment of the political objective, the level of political will behind the policy, the military capabilities necessary to ensure successful completion of the political objective and the risks and costs, both in material and political collateral or prestige of pursuing the objective, ergo the parallel to the Ego. The pros and cons are weighed with statistical analyses of possibilities and probabilities. At this point in the discussion the nature and capabilities of the organizations involved comes into play. This reality brings us to Allison and Zelikow’s model of decision-making concerning organizational behavior. This model is informed by the sociological theories of Social Constructionism, Structural Functionalism and Rational Choice. The model stipulates that governmental action is a function of organizational output as affected by organizational culture, capabilities, limitations and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The Political Science perspective that best fits within this framework as a means to an end is Liberal Internationalism with it’s preference for working to achieve political objectives through robust international institutions that promote the liberal ideals of liberty, democracy and prosperity. However, my assertion is that any and all political objectives, Realist or Liberal, serve the purposes of preserving power for the state, and engendering amiable circumstances in the international arena to continue to assert their political will. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter if someone is a Realist or a Liberal, as all political objectives in a rational choice system seek to preserve the status quo indefinitely. This is where the “rubber hits the road” in policy and strategy. Either the political objective is perceived to be worthy of the risks or it is deemed unworthy or improbable and discarded. This assessment of desires and risks closely mirrors the functions of the Ego in Freudian psychoanalysis as the chief defensive measure balancing internal and external pressures.

The Super-Ego in this parallel is the directed reification of the abstract ideal as promoted by the chief persuader in the American foreign policy process, the president. In this parallel, the Id and the Super-Ego do not conflict with each other, but join forces to persuade the Ego to pursue the Id’s objective with idealistic justification. Allison and Zelikow’s Model III highlighting individual actors with personality profiles and the personified state serve as the basis for this final tier of analysis. The president must convince the other members of government of the value of the political objective and the feasibility of achieving it through either soft power or hard power or a combination of both. To do this the president must construct his arguments and choose the symbols that best represent his goals to the target audience, whether it is the military, Congress, or the public. This facet of foreign policy is informed by the sociological theories of Constructionism, Symbolic Interactionism, and Rational Choice.

Constructionism and Symbolic Interactionism propose that we humans interpret our surroundings and ourselves through ongoing interactions that determine the nature of our evolving relationships with ourselves, and those around us. These paradigms also assert that we construct ourselves how we want others to perceive us or how we perceive ourselves. It is this malleable core, which a skilled politician must manipulate to win consensus for foreign policy from all arenas necessary to proceed and pursue the political objective. For any president, their real power is persuasion and as such they must use that power to onboard the government and the nation or risk failing to attain the political objective.

According to Bob Woodward’s account of Bush’s recollection in “Plan of Attack”, “The vice president, after 9/11, clearly saw Saddam Hussein as a threat to peace, and was unwavering in his view that Saddam was a real danger.” (Woodward: 4) Woodward continues, “On the long walk-up to war in Iraq, Dick Cheney was a powerful steamrolling force. Since the terrorist attacks, he had developed an intense focus on the threats posed by Saddam and by Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, the group responsible for 9/11… For Cheney, taking care of Saddam was high necessity.” (Woodward: 4) As George H. W. Bush’s secretary of defense during the 1991 Gulf War, Cheney “harbored a deep sense of unfinished business about Iraq.” (Woodward: 9) These statements are indicative of Allison and Zelikow’s Model III for decision-making as a political resultant.

The onus of regime change, however, did not come from either Cheney or Bush, but was inherited from the Clinton administration. “A 1998 law passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton authorized up to $97 million in military assistance to Iraqi opposition forces ‘to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein’ and ‘promote the emergence of a democratic government.’” (Woodward: 10) This fact is an artifact of Allison and Zelikow’s Models II and III for action as a function of organizational output and as the political resultant of bargaining.

According to Woodward, Bush wasn’t happy with current U.S. policy on Saddam, as it wasn’t effective in curbing his behavior or toppling his regime. (Woodward: 12) For this reason Bush’s first national security briefing as president-elect concerned Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam’s military capabilities and the situation-report on the No-Fly-Zone actions of the previous decade. (Woodward: 12) This is an example of a Model III individual actor participating in a Model II process to assess a RAM I opponent in order to craft a solid, supportable, strategically viable political objective. Regime change in Iraq is simultaneously both Realist and Liberal. Bush wanted regime change in Iraq in order to further American interests of national security, Realist objective, and spread Liberal ideals that would nurture an international environment more cooperative with the U.S.

At Cheney’s urging Bush considered Saddam his top priority after establishing an immediate response to the terror attacks of 9/11 in the form of the war in Afghanistan. Whether it was unfinished business from a previous administration, a reaction to a perception of impending doom, or an opportunity to extend our influence, Saddam was next, Bush’s administration just had to figure out how to do it and how to sell it to the nation and the world. To get the ball rolling President Bush pulled Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to the side after a National Security Council meeting on Wednesday, November 21, 2001. Rumsfeld was told to review the Iraq war plan but to keep it to himself and under the radar. He replied that in the near future he would need access to then Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet. Bush indicated that would be ok, just not yet. (Woodward: 3)

Rumsfeld proposed three questions that needed to be answered in order to evaluate any potential use of military force under the new administration. First, is a proposed action truly necessary? Second, is the proposed action achievable? Third, is it worth it? (Woodward: 19) Each one of the principals on the National Security Council answered these questions to the best of their knowledge and in-line with their personal perspectives and professional experience. This demonstrates the RAM II and RAM III perspectives that Allison and Zelikow consider.  

Cheney set to work on the justifications for war. The greatest concern expressed was the possible nightmare scenario of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or WMDs. These WMDs didn’t need to be used by Saddam, who had already shown his willingness to use chemical weapons on his own civilian population, but they could be given or sold to terrorist groups without a homeland to be retaliated against and used to attack either the U.S. homeland or our assets abroad. To prevent that from happening, both Cheney and Rumsfeld insisted that America needed to take the fight to the terrorists and that meant preemption. (Woodward: 34)

Vice President Cheney became the champion of this new policy cornerstone. But preemption itself presented issues that became obstacles to action. With the doctrine of preemption there is a requirement of irrefutable proof, a smoking gun. As Condoleeza Rice so eloquently put it, “You don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” No one in the administration was willing to allow a WMD to be used on American soil before acting, therefore the issue of proof had to be resolved, ultimately shifting policy from preemption towards prevention. This transition appears to be a natural development in the revision or rebranding of Realist political objectives amid an environment of Liberal Internationalism. This transition, I think, is representative of the interaction between the Id and the Ego in Freudian psychoanalysis. This conflict between objectives and obstacles will require additional resources that can only be brought to the table by the chief executive or president as policy evangelist and the ultimate agent of persuasion, the Super-Ego.

The Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, was perhaps second only to Cheney in the Bush Administration in his insistence for regime change in Iraq, the Clausewitzian political objective and in my assertion representative of the Id of this new administration. (Woodward: 20, 21) Wolfowitz was a Neo-Con, whose primary strategic philosophy was one of U.S. Primacy, a Realist perspective. This Realist political objective was contrasted by the need to work within the Liberal Internationalist system constructed post WWII, e.g. UN, NATO, etc…

The framework of liberal international institutions that constitutes the international relations environment can be the restraining factor for great powers’ actions, much the same way that the Ego filters the input from the Id, the Super-Ego and exogenous forces. The need to maintain the mantle of legitimacy in world opinion can be crucial to continued cooperation, increased political capital and prestige. To lose the mantle of legitimacy over preventive war was to walk alone down a dark alley at night in a rough part of town.

The administration had to navigate carefully and investigate all avenues while pursuing a decidedly focused goal, regime change in Iraq, one way or the other; the “other” being war with the hopes of establishing a democracy in the Middle East. The only problem was that the Department of Defense had no up-to-date war plans with good assumptions, according to Rumsfeld. (Woodward: 34) This constraint is addressed by Allison and Zelikow’s Model II for organizational behavior and limits in determining governmental action.

The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was concerned over what he considered to be the rush toward war. Powell approached the president to encourage him to not feel pressured into anything prematurely and let State do its job. (Woodward: 22) Powell’s preference for overwhelming force was well known to Cheney and Rumsfeld and was one of the things about the DoD they were trying to change. Rumsfeld wanted a lighter more readily deployable military capable of quick action, while Powell, when still at JCS, preferred the slow moving, large, more deliberately deployed forces that could preclude hasty policy decisions and catastrophic miscalculations. It seems that organizational SOPs and culture at DoD, dominated by Model II dynamics, could limit degrees of freedom in foreign policy choices for any given president, a Model III actor, and Rumsfeld wanted to change that by radical transformation from ethos to implementation. This process is, I believe, representative of negotiations between the Id and the Ego on behalf of the political objective, wherein the Id recruits the Super-Ego in an attempt to redefine the parameters of the discussion to more favorable terms with more options for amiable outcomes without additional internal dissonance, or neuroses.

The key to paving the way to war, the only way to ensure regime change according to CIA director Tenet, was obtaining good intelligence on WMDs inside Iraq and Saddam’s connections to al Qaeda and other terrorist networks. (Woodward: 300) By February of 2003, CIA had infiltrated Iraq and had amazingly high quality sources. CIA’s assets included top-level officers in the security services, Republican Guard, as well as the communications corps. And yet they had next to nothing on WMDs. Simultaneously, Powell, a Model III actor bound by Model II constraints, convinced the president also a Model III actor operating within the constraints of Model II organizations, to approach the UN Security Council, an international example of a Model II decision-making organization, and seek to have IAEA weapons inspectors (actors with Models II and III attributes) placed inside Iraq. Iraq was considered as a RAM I state actor headed by a Model III dictator in Saddam Hussein.

Powell’s demands were that the inspectors be given cooperation by the Iraqi regime, comprised of Model II organizations, but heavily influenced by the existence of such a powerful Model III actor/dictator, in efforts to stave off war and determine the validity of CIA’s claims about Saddam’s WMD programs. (Woodward: 301) This step was necessary, whether or not it was simply going through the motions, because it fulfilled the requirements of world opinion concerning the mantle of legitimacy. This process is indicative of the premeditated self-presentation that must be considered by a RAM III actor, like the president, as the leader of a unitary rational state or RAM I actor. Our national character, identity and prestige are worth protecting and that is the number one job of the president; to help define what it is to be an American at the time. I think this is further evidence of the president’s role as the Super-Ego in policy decisions.

Cheney wasn’t pleased with the way things went in the UN. The initial draft resolution was held up for weeks over one simple word, “and” versus “or”. Those three letters distinguished between needing only one condition to be satisfied in the UN resolution in order to declare Saddam in breach and therefore open to military attack from the Coalition of the Willing, or both conditions being met. The clincher was the question of cooperation; Saddam could easily play the system as he had for the previous twelve years while secretly planning something horrible. Cheney wanted out of the inspections business.

It was up to Powell to sell the WMD danger to the world at the UN Security Council meeting. Powell brought in Director of Central Intelligence Tenet as an authoritative prop and proceeded to unleash an enormous and diverse litany of multimedia presentations of evidence and intelligence. “The secretary’s presentation took 76 minutes… The mixture of understatement, overstatement and personal passion made for riveting television.” (Woodward: 311) Woodward goes on to tell us that “Mary McGrory, the renowned liberal columnist for the Washington Post, and a Bush critic, wrote… ‘I can only say that he persuaded me, and I was as tough as France to convince.” Dan Bartlett, a senior Whitehouse staffer called it “the Powell buy-in.” (Woodward: 312) This situation depicts the Model III personified state/ individual actor as a charismatic influence in favor of the Realist political objective, a product evangelist, the voice of the Super-Ego exhorting the virtues of the Id to the domestic and international Egos of Model II liberal institutions being asked to change their ways. 

By this time Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and General Franks had ironed out the wrinkles in the DoD’s war planning for Iraq. The Transformation was under way and the American military machine was well in motion by this time and approaching the necessary posture for war. The steamroller was moving; almost too fast for the speed bumps it had to clear. Bush told Rumsfeld to slow down his troop movements as they were getting a little ahead of themselves. “Don, we’re accelerating too fast relative to where we need to be because of the diplomatic side.” (Woodward: 319) Following the established rules of the liberal international system took time and with reason, to give diplomacy a chance. The troop movement timetables were revised.

Unfortunately for the administrations pursuit of the political object, the intelligence surrounding the presence of WMDs in Iraq was becoming diaphanous. They were loosing the authoritative stance of their primary reason to invade. The Super-Ego’s justification was quickly disappearing. Woodward tells us, “Several of these sources, I know, did voice their reservations within their various organizations but they also did not have enough to robustly challenge the conclusions that had already been reached. I have no evidence that the reservations of these particular sources reached the president.” (Woodward: 356)

On March 20, 2003 the first major military action occurred, but the war had begun long before. A Realist political objective had been determined, weighed and couched in Liberal terms. The Liberal International constraints were defined, the limitations of organizational behavior challenged and an administration, a microcosm of individuals, organizations and psycho-sociological constructs, began to become self-aware and move towards achieving their goal. All that remained was the neurotic discourse between the ideologue Id in pursuit of primacy, the reality check Ego and the charismatic Super-Ego, reinforcing our faith in rational choices on a foundation of asymmetric information that would lead the world into a perpetual bind. I conclude that regardless of whether or not a political objective is more easily defined by Realism or Liberalism, that in actuality, all goals seek to preserve one’s power and will work with the available options, in most cases, to achieve their ends. The reality of organizational behavior and liberal international institutions means having to compromise. This compromise is why I suggest that these functional structures act as the Ego in policy choices. In this analysis, the Super-Ego and the Id don’t fight, but cooperate to meet a perceived need. Such is the nature of bounded rationality, strategy, and the human mind.


Bob Woodward, “Plan of Attack: The Definitive Account of the Decision to Invade Iraq” © 2004. Simon & Schuster.

Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow, “Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis” © 1999. Pearson Education.

Ruth A Wallace and Alison Wolf, “Contemporary Sociological Theory” ©  2005 Pearson Prentice Hall

NAFTA and the Making of US Trade Policy: Symbolic Constructivism, Collective Action, Domestic Institutions and National Interests.

POLS 342       Foreign Policy            Mark Peceny             Timothy Sipp          12/12/08

NAFTA and the Making of US Trade Policy: Symbolic Constructivism, Collective Action, Domestic Institutions and National Interests.

There are ongoing discussions about the nature of the decision making process in determining trade policy and international relations. Some analytical models promote ideas about factor mobility and the costs of collective action, while others focus on domestic institutions and relatively open access to legislative representatives. Most models agree that there is not a single variable that controls the process of trade policy determination in America. One thing is certain, historically, the strategic national interests of a unitary rational state actor have not been an overriding concern in the formation of trade policy. Therefore, this paper will accept the assumption that multiple actors have a role to play in the formulation of trade policy in the United States and seek to demonstrate their particular dynamics as observed in the negotiation and ratification of NAFTA.

Let’s begin with the rational actor model that stipulates that an entity will act to maximize their assets and minimize their liabilities. Assuming perfect information is available, this rational actor will seek trade policies that are aligned with their interests and promote their prosperity. For a developed country with abundant capital in concentrated ownership, this means seeking freer trade. For a developed country with abundant labor this means a preference towards protectionist policies. (Alt and Gilligan: 1994. p. 332)  This is an excellent situation for our rational actor as long as their interests aren’t counter to anyone else’s and they have all of the pertinent information. If there are two or more rational actors with countervailing interests or multiple unknown variables, how does the situation get resolved? What are the constituent components of this conflict and how do they evolve and interact to arrive at an outcome preferred by some and disliked by others?

It appears that several levels of cost –benefit analyses are conducted by each rational actor. Keep in mind that for our purposes that a rational actor is an entity and can represent a multitude of people with similar interests or a coalition of groups with a convergence of interest in one particular matter. The costs considered range from the costs of collective action, to the costs of doing nothing. These costs could be rather tangible as in economical (income), and political (prestige or collateral) costs or they could be more abstract like technical competitive advantage and strategic posturing for primacy in relative balances of power. (Krasner: 1976. p. 321-324) These costs associated with determining trade policy reflect both the impetus to negotiate and the resistance to change.

Both domestic institutions and individual behavior are important aspects of determining trade policy. The existence of domestic institutions ensures channels for communication without having to engender those channels and incur the organizational costs. This is a great benefit to minority actors without either the economic clout or political influence necessary to affect trade policy in their favor. (Alt and Gilligan: 1994. p. 337) Domestic institutions can often be seen as reactions to past crises that precipitated policy changes. (Krasner: 1976. p. 343) Since these organizations were engendered as a response to a perceived threat, they are defensive in nature and do not seek positive aims (like national interests), but negative goals (like job protection), designed to maintain gains and prevent losses of either income or political influence. (Krasner: 1976. p. 341) Rational actors will under certain conditions make a choice that is not in their individual interests or, more likely, in the national interest, but do so with confidence in their convictions. The question to be asked is “Why?”

With the introduction, negotiation, and ratification of NAFTA we see a complex process of interaction between multiple, layered interests and analytical models (Stolper-Samuelson, Hecksher-Ohlin, Rogowski, and Ricardo-Viner) that contribute to our understanding of their functioning to achieve a treaty that remains enforce fifteen years later. NAFTA as a trade treaty is unique in many ways: from the unexpectedly high resistance within the U.S. from previously unaligned special interest groups to the fact that, across the board, for the countries involved, the benefits far outweighed the costs. (Mayer: 1998 p. 65) Additionally, this is the first treaty that a U.S. president had to seek congressional approval to negotiate. As such this treaty was subject to the highly accessible legislative branch of government that in-turn provided fertile ground for domestic conflict and possible policy derailment. (Mayer)

Crucial to the opposition of NAFTA within the United States was the organizational tactic of symbolic constructivism that united disparate interests in denial of trade policy that could effectively be beneficial to some of them. (Mayer: 1998. p. 106) This method called on distinct symbols of national pride and confidence to be maintained at a “small” financial cost with a significant gain in the valuable variables of heritage and prestige. (Mayer: 1998. p. 272) The big question remains, how did such previously small players affect such great influence on these negotiations and what perspective accounts for their success?

The fact that the negotiations for NAFTA occurred during an election cycle in the United States contributes greatly to the level of influence open to domestic political wrangling. When Bill Clinton was a presidential candidate; that he suggested that he wouldn’t continue negotiations without two side agreements concerning the environment and labor was unprecedented. It was, however, arguably, this tactic of vague conditionality that benefited him over his rivals. (Mayer: 1998. p. 165)

The prevailing wisdom at the international level was that NAFTA was good for the national grand strategies of all three countries involved: Mexico, Canada and the United States. However, forces within each country fought the implementation of NAFTA on different grounds. Ross Perot lead the charge in America against NAFTA during the 1992 presidential election by assuring America that ratifying NAFTA would ensure a “huge sucking sound” as jobs fled America to Mexico. Dick Gephardt ensured that the Congressional discussion would be equally clouded with newly empowered symbolic constructions that weakened NAFTA on behalf of American pride. (Mayer: 1998 p. 216, 272) This confluence of special interests and domestic institutions made the passage of NAFTA’s provisions highly unlikely. To see NAFTA passed would require a strong push from multiple sources within government and private business alike.

According to Mayer, page 273, an immense effort was required from business leaders, congresspersons, and the president (Clinton at the time) to garner enough support to pass the legislation necessary to ratify NAFTA. The fact that Symbolic Constructivism came to represent a majority of the argument in the ratification of NAFTA is justification for continued research into the costs of collective action, perceptions of legitimacy and factual accuracy in political calculations. According to Krasner (page 342) and Alt and Gilligan (page 337) a state has no impetus to enact change in policy, trade or otherwise, until there is an exogenous, perhaps chaotic, force that warrants change for the purpose of protection. And even then, the protection doesn’t have to be unilateral, but can be customized to specific factors of production or the maintenance of particular institutions. (Alt and Gilligan: 1998 p. 337)

 In the case of NAFTA, Mexico saw a strategic advantage in securing a free trade agreement with the United States. Several industries within Mexico were for the agreements (like Mexican manufacturing), while others suffered because of NAFTA (like Mexican grain farmers). In the U.S. support for NAFTA had to come from the top down as grassroots organizers fought NAFTA over symbolic ideas instead of dollars and sense. Canada has always dragged it’s heals concerning NAFTA and even though Chrétien won on anti-NAFTA sentiment his overwhelming victory paved the way for American led interest in ratifying the agreements. (Mayer: 1998 p. 300)

This analysis shows that there is a complex relationship between symbolic constructivism, domestic political institutions and trade policy and that there is no clear, linear relationship to be denoted. In the case of NAFTA, we have seen particular circumstances leveraged with specific methods to achieve strategic competitive advantage. This decision-making process involving rational state actors engaging in irrational behavior at the behest of special interests born of domestic political institutions is typical of the real-world and not theoretical constructs. To better understand these multi-faceted systems we must employ analytical models that are informed by more than one school of thought and involve domestic politics, international relations and the study of individual human behavior and collective action.


Krasner, Stephen, “State Power and the Structure of International Trade, “ World Politics,  Vol. 28, No. 3, (April 1976), pp. 317-347

Alt, James and Michael Gilligan, “The Political Economy of Trading States: Factor Specificity, Collective Action Problems, and the Domestic Political Institutions,” Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, (1994), pp. 165-192

Mayer, Frederich, “Interpreting NAFTA: the science and the art of political analysis” © 1998. Columbia University Press

3 Questions on Russian History for Dr. Marina Oborotova 2008

POLS 357       Russian and Eurasian Politics             :           Dr. Oborotova            1/30/08

Timothy J. Sipp

3 Questions on Russian History

  1. How do Russians see themselves in terms of:
    1. Cultural Identity
    1. National Purpose
    1. International Role
  • Was the dissolution of the Soviet Union part of a greater grand strategy with intent to leave certain control structures in place, while waiting for a better time to exert political will in the near future, e.g. playing dead while regrouping?
  • Was Communism a “fool’s errand” and international experiment imposed on the unsuspecting people of Russia in order to establish which socio-economic politik may work better for establishing sustainable centralized control by an elite class regardless of nationality?

This is the paper that Dr. Marina Oborotova insisted that I write instead of my true assessment of Russian Resurgence and Hegemonic Intent. She threatened my grade if I did not comply. 2008

POLS 357     Russian and Eurasian Politics     Dr. Oborotova    Timothy J. Sipp      5/07/08

Russo-Chinese Relations in the 20th & 21st Century: Geo-Politics & Planetary Evolution

Formal Russo-Chinese relations pre-date other Sino-European arrangements with the signing of the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689. This treaty set the precedent for all future discourse by addressing the multi-faceted nature of shared borders and self-determination. Both nations developed without significant cultural interaction and were mature sovereigns before mutual expansion brought them into prolonged contact and occasional conflict. With historical disputations ranging from territorial ambitions and access to ports to ideological differences and favorable trade, the ongoing developments in Russo-Chinese relations will remain paramount to a stable Asian-Pacific region and world for the foreseeable future (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004) 

The national interests of Russia revolve around domestic stability, both ideologically and economically. However, the Russian leadership must necessarily address the evolving socio-cultural and geo-political realities of its geography and proximity to an ascendant China. The balance of regional power between Russia and China has oscillated throughout history. At the onset of their formal recognition in 1689, China was in a short-lived superior negotiating position (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004). China treated the Russians with more respect than their European counterparts because the Russians arrived by land, not by sea, signaling to the Chinese the possibility of these ‘new barbarians’ showing up armed, en mass, with intent. With subsequent centuries came the weakening of the Qing empire due to corruption, internal dissent and insurgency, as well as the concerted external pressures of an expanding Europe. The Qing policies against Han Chinese migration into the frontiers of Mongolia and Manchuria led to the eventual inability to control the sparsely populated regions making them vulnerable to assimilation by tsarist Russia and subsequently the communists after the Bolshevik Revolution (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004).

During the early years of the Soviet Union, the Comintern arrived in China to organize what became the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921. However, Russian policy was markedly dualist as deepened relations were sought with both the revolutionary CCP and the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalists that were the internationally recognized government of China (formerly the ROC or Republic of China). The conference at Yalta, resolving WWII, made provisions for renewing tsarist-era claims on northeastern Chinese ports and the joint ownership of the Manchurian railway. Also included in Yalta was the establishment of a Soviet naval base at Port Arthur. After WWII, Moscow provided invaluable aid in the form of military equipment and supplies, brought through Manchuria, to Mao’s CCP to help them win the ensuing civil war between the CCP and Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT. Of interest, is Stalin’s preference for dealing with Chiang Kai-shek of the KMT instead of Mao Zedong, leader of the CCP and Stalin’s desire to pursue a divided China vulnerable to territorial expansion and Soviet influence without the Chinese ability to pose a reciprocal challenge (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004).

Regardless of any latent tensions between the CCP and the USSR, Mao Zedong announced in 1949, after defeating the KMT, the intention of the CCP and the Chinese nation to ‘“lean to one side” and follow the Soviet Path.’ (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004. p. 18). Essential to this subordination of the Chinese people was the proclaimed necessity to “learn from the Soviet Union,” while specifically referencing the USSR     in Confucian terms as “big brother” instituting a hierarchical relationship (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004).

The subsequent Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance Between the USSR and the People’s Republic of China, signed in 1950, committed the two states to meet aggression from Japan or its allies with mutual assistance. As part of this agreement, the Manchurian railway was to be given back to the Chinese in 1952, the Chinese were to administer the port at Darien and the Soviets were to pull out of Port Arthur (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004). During the 1950s thousands of Soviet technicians arrived in China with the blueprints for engendering 156 enterprises determined to be essential to industrializing and modernizing China according to Soviet dogma.

The power of Soviet dogma would not dominate Chinese thought for long as major ideological rifts occurred within the USSR as Nikita Khrushchev succeeded Joseph Stalin and China moved away from the Moscow mindset to a more culturally-appropriate socialism for the Chinese people. The split was formalized in 1960 by the publishing of “Long Live Leninism” in the Chinese Communist Party theoretical journal Hongqi (Red Flag) and solidified with the Soviet response a few days later in Pravda, the CPSU’s (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) newspaper. As a result of this intensifying ideological campaign the Soviet Union withdrew its technicians from China further exacerbating the economic crisis brought on by the crippling failures of the Great Leap Forward (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004).

As relations soured between the USSR and China, China returned to poignant complaints about Soviet encroachment onto traditional Chinese lands acquired by the Russians during the Qing dynasty a century before. The result was a massing of troops on both sides of the border and inevitable small-scale open skirmishes. Large-scale fighting broke out in March of 1969 around Damanskii Island (Zhenbao in Chinese) in the Ussuri River. “By some accounts, the Soviet Union seriously contemplated launching a nuclear strike against China as a preventive strategy” (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004. p. 19). It was this descent into enmity that elucidated the Chinese leadership’s need to reassess the nature of China’s geo-strategic position and the necessity of engaging the United States as a potential future ally against the “polar bear” to the north.

Subsequent leadership succession in both the USSR and China made repairing relations extremely difficult. In September of 1979 both states agreed to discuss their ongoing issues in efforts to normalize relations. However, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979, the Chinese suspended all talks. In a speech made at Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April of 1982 Leonid Brezhnev called for Sino-Soviet cooperation and talks resumed but without much progress. In November of 1983 at Brezhnev’s state funeral, the Chinese foreign minister, Huang Hua gave his Soviet counterpart,Andrei Gromyko, a list of three demands to be met if normalization of relations were to occur (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004.). The “three demands” were for the Soviets to reverse the troop build-up on the Sino-Soviet border, leave Afghanistan and encourage the Vietnamese troops to leave Cambodia.   

It wasn’t until Gorbachev made his speech in Vladivostok in 1986 announcing the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and a willingness to significant reductions in troops along the Sino-Soviet border that relations began to warm. The Vietnamese withdrawal of troops from Cambodia in 1989 removed the last of the three obstacles to normalized relations between the USSR and China. Mikhail Gorbachev made a visit to Beijing in May of 1989 to secure high level face to face engagement with the Chinese only to be met by the Tiananmen Square crisis and a hollow suit in the form of General Secretary Zhao Ziyang who inadvertently informed Gorbachev that Deng Xiaoping was the real leader of China, earning Zhao a swift purging (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004.).

Even as the respective leadership of these two communist states began to come to terms with each other, the world began to see the economic disintegration within the USSR and Russia and collapse of Eastern European communist states. The lack of a firm Soviet state with which to interact greatly impeded the continued normalization of relations between the USSR and China. The Chinese also had to focus on reasserting control of its population after the Tiananmen crisis highlighted the growing unrest with the status quo.

In the years immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the newly formed Russian Federation made cooperative overtones to China including the policy of “One China”. This statement, made by Boris Yeltsin on September 15, 1992, said that Russia wouldn’t formally recognize Taiwan and initiate interstate relations. This statement was made to counter the mistake of a confused bureaucracy in Moscow that facilitated the free-lance diplomacy of a member of Yeltsin’s inner circle to sign an agreement with Taiwanese officials to exchange representatives for conducting the business of bilateral relations (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004.).

Further progress was made in September of 1994 when Jiang Zemin and Boris Yeltsin held a second summit to discuss their relations, regional security and proclaim a “constructive partnership”. The four foci of this proclamation were political, economic, military and international concerns. These newly stated principals of interstate relations were not to be taken as alignment against any one nation, e.g. The United States, but to facilitate the emergence of a multi-polar world and a common desire to “permit no expansionism and oppose hegemony, power politics, and the establishment of antagonistic, political, military, and economic blocs,” (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004. pp. 28-29).   

Throughout the mid 1990s Russia and China continued to solidify their relationship with an eye to an expanding NATO that Moscow felt was meant to subjugate the Russian people to the will of America and its European allies. Meanwhile, China was feeling America’s and indeed international scrutiny over the missile tests timed to coincide with Taiwanese elections in efforts to intimidate the electorate into selecting a candidate more compliant with mainland China’s views and control. Subsequently, both China and Russia agreed not to criticize each others internal domestic policies. For Russia this meant Chinese support of the war in Chechnya and for China this meant Russian support of China’s sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan.

As this strategic partnership formed so did the international institutions needed to make it work. The formation of the “Shanghai Five” was an effort to continue to demilitarize Central Asian borders via the Mutual Reduction of Military Strength in Border Regions agreement. This agreement between Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan was the antecedent to the current Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) formed in 2001 to address emerging issues of extremism, terrorism and separatism in the region. This newly formed consortium of regional powers is touted as a regional security instrument and not intended to signal the formation of an economic or military bloc with global reach. It cannot go without mention, however, that the principal member nations have considerable resources, economies and standing armies.

The ongoing economic crises in Russia throughout the 1990s further prevented equal footing in trade relations between China and Russia. The only thing that China needed that Russia could provide was increasingly sophisticated military hardware including jets and tanks that were newer and more advanced than the ones in the Russian arsenal. Prevailing Russian thought was that giving China a possible advantage in conventional arms was a small price to pay for economic stimulation in light of the enormous deterrence that is the Russian stockpile of nuclear weapons. The inability of Russia to maintain the desired 70/30 ratio of arms deliveries to technology transfer in the late 1990s was significant in revealing the weakness of the Russian markets and diminished political influence of Russian leadership (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004).

By the end of the 1990s the Chinese leadership had realized the need to secure their energy supply and approached Russia with intent to make arrangements for oil and gas. In February of 1999 the two nations signed agreements to conduct feasibility studies into developing  oil and gas pipelines from Siberia into northern China. None of the subsequent discourse proved productive as terms constantly changed. Vladimir Putin has increased the difficulty of resolving any cooperative energy concerns with China by insisting that any pipeline to Asia be open to other nations and not simply serve China, effectively putting China in the driver’s seat regarding pricing and competitive practices.

With the advent of energy supply as the premier instrument of Russian foreign policy both in Europe and Asia, it seems more unlikely that China will be satisfied with Russian promises and US assurances in its quest for energy security. However, the US declaration of an Axis of Evil in 2002 by George W. Bush effectively tightened Russo-Chinese relations and firmed their commitment to condemn “unilateralism and power politics.” It is this continued importance of balancing American power, in pursuit of a multi-polar world, that drives the convergence of Russian and Chinese interests in addition to the long-time understanding that peace between Russia and China is good for business. The principal nations of Russia and China have extended observer status to Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia in efforts to recruit more countries to their stated cause of preventing extremism, terrorism and separatism.

Russia faces the increasing problem of border security and immigration in its eastern provinces as 8 million Russians uninterested in certain types of labor live across the river from 200 million Chinese looking for work. Despite the closing of the borders at the request of the local oblast officials, many Chinese people simply ride across the border on tour buses which require no visa or immigration checks and disappear into the Russian economy. As the timeless concerns of border security & immigration, economics & trade balances, and competing ideologies meet with the emerging issue of global warming we are sure to see an intensifying of the relationship between Russia and China .

Similar to the situation China found itself in in the late 19th century, Russia’s population and economic strength in the border regions is waning leaving a vacuum that the Chinese people would gladly fill (Strategic Partners: Russian-Chinese Relations in the Post-Soviet Era. Jeanne L. Wilson. 2004). This natural tendency would be compounded by the increased scarcity of food and water predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As China’s Gobi desert expands in exponential fashion in conjunction with a loss of 20% of the arable land in China and a permanent loss of 80% of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau glacier a critical water shortage for up to one billion Asians would ensue. China’s agricultural output of major crops including wheat, rice and corn would drop by up to 37% in the last half of this century (Combating Climate Change: China Goes On the Offensive. Ding Yimin, 10/04/07).

According to the IPCC’s reports on global climate change, Russia will escape relatively unscathed from the effects of climate change and even stands to profit in several ways. The melting of arctic sea ice is opening access to several northern ports year round, as well as making oil and gas exploration and exploitation possible. The arable land of Russia will increase, facilitating greater food production, with a mind to exporting this additional food to a starving Asia and the rest of the world. One cannot help but imagine the circumstances under which two wholly disparate nations with inherent antagonisms perceive common ground in dissuasion of American hegemony through expanded regional cooperation instead of conflict.

It is however, difficult to say which direction Russo-Chinese relations will take. The course determined should be based on rational, realist understandings of the nature of geo-politics in light of planetary evolution and scarcity and not necessarily the white elephant of US hegemony. However, the changing dispositions of power centers in each nation, as their respective populations react to internal & external pressures, will ultimately decide their fate. 

Christians And Spices: The Civilizing Mission: Cultural Constructivism and Social Control in British Colonial India

HIST – 480 Western Impacts on Asia: Christians and Spices     Dr. Jonathan Porter              3/27/08

The Civilizing Mission: Cultural Constructivism and Social Control in British Colonial India

The British stated that they didn’t want to interfere with the indigenous cultures or religions in India(Dirks, p.183), but they ended up having to implement some very rigid social structures in order to maintain control of the colonies. Regardless of stated intent, imposing imperial will on a complex colonial society produced difficulties, not the least of which was justifying authoritative control in liberal terms of the “rule of law”.(Freitag. p.228)

The British sought intimate knowledge of the intricate dynamics of dominant Indian culture, major sub-cultures and the existing hierarchical structures that drove Indian society and could help maintain a profitable peace. It became clear early on that most friction between castes occurred during religious processions or festivals that took place in contested public spaces.(Dirks. p. 184)

The very nature of some of these rituals, sati and hookswinging in particular, became the subjects of heated debate over free will and cultural coercion. The appropriateness and cultural relevance of these apparently barbaric customs and their sanction as sacred became the eventual lightning rod for expressing imperial authority through dominant culture in southern India.

In northern India, the British were more concerned with transforming an ancient rural culture of land barons and roving tribes of highly skilled militants that acted as hired “protection” and “enforcement” into a sedentary agrarian culture not unlike that of the English gentry. In order to achieve this end the British had to manage the perceptions of the population and change the nature of the debate as well as that of the people.

 Throughout the 19th century the debates regarding the practice of sati and hookswinging took precedence over much of the discussion of civilizing southern India. It seems that these two customs appeared to the British to be inconsistent with rational choice, as defined by western minds, as well as an affront to Victorian Protestant sensibilities.(Dirks. p.189) Therefore, the British suspected ulterior motives were at work. In the case of sati, it was assumed that, even if a woman wasn’t looking forward to the likely misery of being a widow, tradition and/or drugs compelled her to commit ritual suicide or be shamed and suffer at the hands of the community.(Dirks. p.) The practice was summarily suppressed, but not without consequences. The issue of individual agency and legislated state protection had been introduced and a precedent set.

Regarding hookswinging, the fact that a majority of the crowds that turned out to witness the event were of the lowest caste, often thagis, and attracted to baser expressions of faith on the sensational fringes of canonized Hinduism facilitated the marginalization of these masses and their rites. The several different explanations for the existence of hookswinging that varied from region to region, and the fact that some swingers were paid provided the Raj with sufficient room to maneuver in pursuit of its suppression.  However, the British could not find a clear mandate under which to restrict it legally or abolish it entirely. Again the “rule of law” was brought to bare, but found no traction under the auspices of preventing torture or physical harm. The only justification for controlling this ritual was the moral high ground of an imperial will intent on policing public space and public perceptions.

 In northern India we see the British desire to remake the rural elites in their own image. To this end the British realized the need to ostracize the militant tribes who up until then were considered a valid part of the social structure. These Sansiah and Kallar peoples, collectively referred to as thagis, were once respected as military leaders and brave fighters living in a symbiotic relationship with the landed elite while retaining their freedom of movement as nomadic peoples(Dirks. p.187). The British saw these nomadic warrior clans as a threat to the imperial monopoly on authority and violence.(Freitag. p.230)

In order to control these people effectively and prevent the possibility of a nationalist insurgency, a system had to be developed that would simultaneously alienate and isolate these wanderers and ingratiate the landlords to the Raj. This understanding became the impetus behind the false enumeration of ‘Criminal Tribes’ and the introduction of anthropology, anthropometry, racism and racial profiling as tools of social engineering in a post-Enlightenment Anglo-imperium.

This covert systemic approach to controlling large groups, deemed potentially deviant or as we’ll see later, outright criminal, existed in parallel to the overt “rule of law” as a ‘temporary’ measure to combat a specific perceived threat. This threat was promulgated by the Raj in response to the economic downturn and subsequent political crises of the 1830’s(Freitag. pp.232-233) The resurgence of organized crime at this time lent itself to the emergence of strategic policing, or the use of highly trained law enforcement resources to counter a limited threat (defined by group membership) determined to be of increased importance to stability.

In addition to investigating and arresting thagis, the Thagi and Dacoity Department (the special police force) began co-opting the local thagi chiefs as intermediaries. At the same time that the police were attempting to gain footholds in the thagi community the judicial system was altering due process in the courts to streamline convictions. “Another accommodation was the judicial finding that although a particular gang had to be proved to have committed a particular crime, it was then sufficient to prove that an accused man belonged to the gang, not that he committed a specific crime.”(Freitag. p.237) No longer was the “rule of law” about justice, “Instead, what mattered was a convincing demonstration of the strength and capacity of British authority, as exercised over groups of criminals.”(Freitag. p. 237)

The introduction of the “approver” system of informers further refined this alternate justice to incorporate the establishment of witness credibility and physical evidence. Establishing the credibility of a thagi witness for the prosecution was as simple as retrieving a piece of physical evidence known only to the witness that was left at a crime scene. Once this credibility had been established, any and all testimony given in regards to a specific case and the perpetrators was regarded as concrete and admissible for the purposes of conviction.(Freitag. p.239) This was the next step in criminalizing genetic code.

Once deviance from socially acceptable norms had been established it was only a matter of time and will to instill new perceptions about the nature of criminality. The reshaped social order was now centralized around a sedentary agrarian elite and an agricultural economy. “Groups still operating outside this base, particularly those relying on a peripatetic lifestyle and the values that implied, became increasingly marginalized. Suffering social, economic and, hence, political irrelevance, these groups now became criminalized at the hands of a state power…”(Freitag. p.243)

Pseudo-science played a major role in the restructuring of Indian affairs under British rule. Redefining cultural relevance and social acceptability of various portions of Indian society wasn’t done by the British in a vacuum. Much of British thought regarding sub-cultures in India was inherited from their chosen liaisons, the Brahmans and the landed elite, and their prejudices, but it was informed by a European intellectual fad, Social Darwinism. Once the opinions of the local elites were recorded they became used as reference and within decades were accorded scholarly attribute. The Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 was the product of this biased accounting and the application of pseudo-scientific Social Darwinism which “proved the most prominent influence, explaining criminality in genetic terms, accompanied by such trappings as the ‘anthropometric’ measurement of criminals by the police.”(Freitag. p.247)     

As a result of this “breakthrough in science” whole families, clans and castes were determined to be criminal by nature and rounded up to prevent the infection of society at large with their deficient genes and tendencies. Anyone that was a member of a peripatetic group that was found outside of the predetermined borders for their group was charged  as a  criminal and sentenced without trial.(Freitag. p.249)

Three main classes of Sansiah are cataloged in accordance with these new metrics: the least harmful were ‘planted out’ to local zamindars as laborers(a type of work release program), the children under 18 were sent to reform schools intended to re-educate and re-culture them and adults, men and women, considered to be born criminals with no hope of reclamation were sent to a penal colony at Sultanpur.(Freitag. p.250) A decade later the new Lt. Governor protested their treatment and sought to free the reclaimable ones. But not without instituting a means of controlling the criminal genes they carried. The government became proponents of 19th century eugenics as social control, and as such became official matchmakers in a society that preferred arranged marriage. Despite these extensive authoritarian measures to change the nature of a people, given the opportunity, the Sansiah absconded into their countryside to take up their lives, never to be counted or discounted again.

With extremely harsh penalties dispensed through biased channels based on gross generalizations of caste culture and pseudo-scientific genetic determination, a re-defining of deviance, while garnering elite local support, subsequently engendered an abusive social control structure that failed in its long term goals of reconditioning entire subaltern cultures and preserving imperial power. Additionally, the enumeration of specific caste rituals as non-religious, by local informants for whom these particular rituals held no significance, allowed the British to contain and closely monitor large groups of subjects in the hopes of preventing insurgent tendencies in the lower castes, while simultaneously responding to the Victorian missionaries’ unease with such “barbaric spectacles” (Dirks. p.191).

It is this dichotomy of ‘rule of law’ for individuals but authoritarian intervention for groups that sets British Colonial India aside from previous social engineering experiments. Informed by post-Enlightenment liberalism, but faced with practical concerns, the 19th century British Raj innovated several new methods and subsequent academic disciplines in the pursuit of empire. These artifacts of empire, these technologies, bare the hallmarks of authoritarian control, raising several questions about parallels in subsequent socio-cultural settings informed by their precedence, e.g. American Racism, Modernity, the Panopticon and fascist liberalism as neo-colonialism, a.k.a. Globalization.


Comparative Studies in Society and History: The Policing of Tradition: Colonialism and Anthropology in Southern India by Nicholas B. Dirks. 1997

Crime in the Social Order of Colonial North India by Sandra B. Freitag. 1991

Christians And Spices: The Cultural Encounter: Dichotomies of Eurasian Colonial Cultural Exchange 2008

HIST – 480 Western Impacts on Asia: Christians and Spices                  Dr. Jonathan Porter

Essay 4                                                           5/06/08                                                  Timothy J. Sipp

The Cultural Encounter: Dichotomies of Eurasian Colonial Cultural Exchange

The Eurasian colonial cultural exchange was a complex process of social information architecture and calculated structural implementation intended to civilize and socialize colonial people while turning a profit. However, the natural ebb and flow of cultural influences as subsequent European powers exerted pressure on indigenous peoples through a range of formal and informal social institutions, expressing varying imperial ideologies, facilitated a bi-lateral dynamic of mutual affectation. Certainly, the colonized were more affected by the colonizers in the immediate sense of sovereignty and subservience, but the lasting effects on both European and Asian cultures is telling of the complex dichotomies commensurate with colonial cultural exchange. 

Eurasian colonial history is rife with examples of one of the central conflicts of ideologically justified imperial expansionism: how does one exert authoritarian rule while satiating the prevailing social filters of liberalism and pseudo-scientific classification? The answer, is by implementing informal social control institutions that transfer imperial cultural norms to the desired population. This use of informal as well as formal (e.g. bureaucracy, police, military, etc…) social control structures serves to embed the target population with the seeds of cultural conformity (Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire. Brian Stoddart. 30,4 1988. Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. P 650). The implantation of cross-cultural norms as social control inherently requires assimilation by the target population. What better way to accomplish a voluntary informal social norm than by using games. There are several dichotomies that exist in cultural transfer via games and the first that we will address is the dichotomy of conformity and differentiation.

One of the principles of British colonial rule was to establish a domestic indigenous base with which to work to administer the rest of the varied colonial populations in the region. It was with ‘local knowledge’ and the support of the subservient dominant culture that Britain maintained its empire. By the second half of the 19th century the playing of games, from the parlor to the football pitch, found new stature as certain games were said to bare the hallmarks of good citizenry. The codification of games and classification of skill sets to be acquired and expressed added pseudo-scientific authority to what was formerly leisure (Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire. Brian Stoddart. 30,4 1988. Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. pp. 652-653).

The British predisposition towards ruling well, at home and abroad, turned to academic pursuit in the earlier centuries of colonial expansion. The same analytical tools applied to governance conveyed to gaming and sport an unparalleled place in the 19th and 20th century social-engineering toolbox as effective instruments for voluntary socialization and extensive informal social control. “Sport may be envisaged as a powerful but largely informal social institution that can create shared beliefs and attitudes between rulers and ruled while at the same time enhancing the social distance between them.” (Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire. Brian Stoddart. 30,4 1988. Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. p. 652). 

The creation of a new base of sports enthusiasts among the British population was the first step towards realizing the goals of extensive informal social control. In England the target audience for these new sports was largely the middle classes who sought the assistance of a ‘professional sports caste’ usually drawn from the lower orders of society. “Quite distinct social relationships were thus elaborated in most sports, with the process of codification the remaining preserve of the privileged even though the leading practitioners in games such as football, cricket and golf were usually professionals.” (Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire. Brian Stoddart. 30,4 1988. Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. p. 653).

The introduction of team sports to the British public schools system was responsible for the widespread acceptance of the informal social control structures surrounding organized athletics and gaming. “By playing team sports, participants were thought to learn teamwork, the value of obeying constituted authority, courage in the face of adversity, loyalty to fellow players, and respect for the rules.” (Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire. Brian Stoddart. 30,4 1988. Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. p. 653) Besides conveying these honorable traits to young people everywhere, these collective pursuits, these group passions led to the formation of informal social networks based around a commonality.

Polo was discovered in the Himalayas in the mid-19th century. The natives had no teams, no goals and no restrictions. The endeavor was a display of purely individual skills like horsemanship and hand-eye coordination. Tacticization of the game by the British military in India created the cult that was termed the sport of kings in Europe. Polo also became the sport of the Indian princes and merchants who could afford it. The very expense of the game conferred a player or team patron with great status. A polo player was a nobleman of means, a man of honor and tactical distinction. Because polo was seen as an excellent means to train officers and strategists about military affairs and tactical situations, it was primarily played in the colonies by the regiments. However, army officers, several of them without means, could not play without the assistance of others. Expressing their talents, in lieu of battle, meant taking up regimental collections to provide the best possible ponies and equipment for the officers on the team. This further exemplifies the middle class aspect of sports in England with nobility recruiting ‘lower classes’ with proven skills and promoting them to a higher station. Further evidence of the desired effects of cross-cultural behavioral transfer can be seen in the promotion of Heera Singh, an enlisted man, to officer status by the maharajah of Patiala because of his polo prowess.

As much as polo had been militarized with instructional intent, tennis had developed as more of an occasion for a social gathering fit for mixed company, primarily men of station and women of similar social standing, than it was a serious competitive sport. Tennis provided a culturally acceptable setting for men and women of similar social rank to mix in a society with strict delineations about opposite sex interactions. These tennis parties became the unofficial courts where one could learn a lot of information that wasn’t “circulating in more formal channels.” (Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire. Brian Stoddart. 30,4 1988. Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. p. 658) 

Cricket became solidified as a purely British passion exemplifying the very essence of English honor, gentility and nobility. It was this passion for etiquette and absolute respect for procedure through honest competition to determine the “best men” that cricket bestowed to its followers. Cricket even became the measure by which the British determined the Indians’ ability to become politically active. “Colonial governors were especially important in emphasizing cricket as a ritual demonstration of British behavior, standards, and moral codes both public and private. Lord Harris, first of the modern English cricket bosses and a late-nineteenth-century governor of Bombay, believed that selected groups of Indians would be ready for some political responsibility when they had assimilated the playing and behavioral codes of cricket.” (Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire. Brian Stoddart. 30,4 1988. Society for Comparative Study of Society and History. p. 658) 

In the colonies where whites were minority we see increased restrictions on who is allowed to play. Cricket was restricted to whites of station in order to reinforce the superiority of white men and their social controls. What would it mean for colonial rule if whites competed with blacks and lost? The very nature of sport as control would then be dictating equality between the races, an unequivocal parity that was backed by the revered institutions of the Anglo-imperium. The fact that the lower classes and castes were groomed for promotions based on performances better than that of the social elites, is not only testimony to the importance of winning regardless of prevailing ideology, but also disproves any noble genetic superiority in the honorable pursuit of sport. It was this tendency towards racial clarification and class or caste distinction rooted in pseudo-science, affected by European intellectual fads and existing cultural distinctions, that drove the imperial vehicle.

Thus, social engineering of this magnitude must necessarily involve the transfer of cultural axioms in addition to military authority or interdiction as a means to induce self-control in diverse populations. Thus it was the nurture over nature aspect of informal social control that is intriguing and lasting. The onset of inter-racial competition was foreshadowing for the eventuality of the ‘ruled’ challenging the ‘rulers’ at their own game, and winning independence from everything but informal colonial culture. Subsequently, you’d be hard pressed to find Dutch pastries made by Burghers to eat at a cricket match in Sri Lanka today. But the mulatto vendor selling tea and crumpets may speak a disappearing dialect of creole Portuguese.

Christians And Spices: European Expansion into Asia: There Goes The Neighborhood: Critical Analysis 2008

HIST 480 Christians and Spices: Western Impacts on Asia    Dr. Porter    2/14/08

Essay 1: Europe vs. Asia: George Sansom and Philip Curtin       Timothy Sipp

A critical analysis:

Cross Cultural Trade in World History by Philip Curtin
The Western World and Japan by George Sansom

Philip Curtin tells a chronological tale of expansion driven by innovation in thought and artifact, technique and technology with a nod to religious motif in the pursuit of profit. George Sansom reveals the bad manners and ill-conceived religious and financial conquests inflicted on the multi-faceted diversity that was the Indian Ocean and South East Asian trading communities.

Curtin’s presentation of this portion of world history, the 15th century to the 19th century, is distinctly Euro-centric in its treatment. Specifically, he addresses the history of trade in the Indian Ocean and South East Asia from the perspective of European powers. Curtin begins with the Portuguese and Vasco de Gama in 1498 and takes us through to the “European Age” when the Dutch and English East India Companies vied for equality with each other and domination of Asia.

George Sansom’s rendition of this history is Indo-Asian-centric and highlights the relative peace of the region before Europeans arrived. He discusses the established etiquette of cross-cultural trade and rich diversity of the trading diasporas that were disrupted by the arrival of the Portuguese.

However confrontational they were, Sansom reminds us that the Portuguese and later Europeans were simply some of many exogenous influences felt by the numerous states of India and countries of South East Asia. According to Sansom, Portuguese Christians had less influence than the Muslims, who, in conjunction with Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and other indigenous peoples, had already established orderly trading throughout the region. It is this perspective of Sansom’s I would like to address next in terms of the emphasis of his work.

For Sansom this epoch in history is marked by bloodlust meets wanderlust for profit as manifest through the instruments of choice of Portuguese conquest, religion and force. For the Portuguese, the grocers of Europe, spreading Christianity and destroying Islam wherever it was encountered was as important as establishing trade monopolies, collecting revenue from protection services and last but not least, piracy.

This misguided faith-based directive often interfered with business to the detriment of all parties involved and permanently altered the known world. No longer were the seas relatively free, save the occasional pirate looking for some booty. The age of armed commerce had arrived in Indo-Asia and it was there to stay. The same could not be said for the Portuguese god.

Catholic Christianity had met its match in the refined ancient beliefs and traditions of the region. Christianity took hold along the coastal regions of India as almost a polite thing to do to welcome newcomers. This was possible because Muslim and Hindu rulers were tolerant and permitted religious and cultural freedoms. Christianity did not flourish in South East Asia where India’s exports of Hinduism and Buddhism were firmly entrenched. Islam enjoyed a greater acceptance than any other belief in the islands of modern day Malaysia and Indonesia. But even with all of these highly structured belief systems the indigenous traditions remained prominent in many more remote locales.  

Curtin, on the other hand, describes the same period in terms of the technology used, the innovations realized and the administration required to keep the store open. From details of the discovery of additional trade winds to bookkeeping methods, Curtin paints a picture, not of brutal conquest, but of a natural development of European interests in the region commensurate with their abilities and political wills.

He does point out the obvious fact that because of the Portuguese’s introduction of widespread violence in the area that all subsequent adventurers came ready for a shootout. The other major regional powers eventually acquiesced as a new balance of power formed with each new European arrival.

Curtin credits the Dutch and the English with a business first and last approach foregoing the costly derision of religious enmity in a region rife with opportunities to exact revenge. Instead they focused on avoiding the Portuguese when possible and coalescing to defeat them when necessary. 

As time passed, the Asians assimilated some of the shipbuilding technologies from Europe and began launching ships crewed by Asians that could compete with those of the European fleets. This, in addition to the low ratio of ships that actually returned to European ports, due to the immense dangers, served as one of the only reverse exchanges of real measurable value from Europe to Asia. As Asians had little need of European goods and rounding the Cape of Good Hope was so dangerous, the Europeans shifted to controlling intra Indo-Asian trade for profit instead of relying mostly on European sales of Indo-Asian goods.

This evolution is what led to further penetration of Europeans into Asia and their establishment of more permanent bases of operation, facilitating eventual empires. These fortified ports of call became the toll booths, weigh stations and garrisons of the day, a further refinement and civilizing of the extortion rings in operation.

Curtin’s conclusion was, “Plunder is an effective, but potentially very expensive way to acquire wealth. It was a lesson the European trading companies were slow to learn, but they did gradually learn.”(Curtin.1984. p.157) For Sansom, “…each saw the other as backward in the arts of living and misguided in things of the spirit.”(Sansom.1973. p. 87). In the end, “Asiatic thought was little disturbed by Western influences, but events in Asia started new movements in the intellectual life of Europe.”(Sansom.1973. p. 113). The most important of which, arguably, is the idea of international law as a prerequisite in the conduct of transnational commerce.

Curtin’s assessment of the facts is no more or less correct than Sansom’s. Theirs is a difference of intent and understanding. For one, a diverse and diplomatic commercial diaspora existed in balance until the equilibrium was eradicated and usurped by marauding men of low character and malevolent method. For another, the wanderlust superseded the bloodlust as the extension of grasp was realized by innovative minds and strong men in the natural pursuit of more.

Regardless of debating which center is more centered, the inevitable remains historical. Portuguese traders became European raiders forcing a permanent and irreconcilable evolution away from civility and tolerance towards lasting and intricate resentments among many nations and faiths, while subsequently laying the foundation of understanding for international law. This dichotomy is our inheritance: Our heritage.

Colonial Systems: Schizophrenic Systems and Social Engineering Timothy J. Sipp 2008

HIST – 480 Western Impacts on Asia: Christians and Spices     Dr. Jonathan Porter              4/10/08

Colonial Systems: Schizophrenic Systems and Social Engineering Timothy J. Sipp

The colonial experience in Java was unique from that of other colonies, especially India. The lack of European understanding of indigenous cultures and social structures regarding village leadership, supra-village hierarchies and their relationships to land and labor led to grossly inaccurate assessments of actualities, possibilities and profit. These false perceptions and the ongoing European conflicts rendered sustainable colonial development implausible and led to the subsequent mis-application of schizophrenic“systems” to fix the problems of profit and power. This resulted in the virtual enslavement of the Javanese in a plantation economy.

The Napoleonic Wars of Europe greatly contributed to the failings of the Javanese colony by disrupting the flow of international trade. When the Dutch fell under French influence, Marshal Daendels introduced the liberal ideals of laissez faire production and free market pressures to the Dutch East India Company in 1808.(Van Niel. pp. 26-27) The Dutch East India Company, whose charter expired in 1799, had already failed as an enterprise due to corruption, mismanagement, and poor investments.(Van Niel. p. 26) The “Company System”, as it was known, was no longer seen as viable. This meant a reassessment of the ownership of monopoly by force. Not only was monopoly regarded as inefficient financially, but also inappropriate philosophically. This move towards economic modernization necessarily required the Javanese colony to suffer a more direct rule. This direct rule required a restructuring of the native populations to fit into the current European philosophical frameworks. In essence, it was preferable to reinvent Javanese society to fit European systems than to discover what worked within the indigenous social constructs of authority, land and labor.

Meanwhile, the opium trade in the 19th century was a unique success in terms of a heavily regulated monopoly that was simultaneously profitable and powerful. This system expressed British colonial control of domestic Indian sub-cultures and social engineering and sought to reclaim the immense outflow of British specie to China for the English consumption of tea. The British system was founded on the principles of social stability and loss prevention.(Richards. p.59) The existence of highly segregated complex social structures in India lent themselves to ready acceptance of the conditions necessary to engender and maintain the British monopoly on opium cultivation and distribution. The use of specific castes, determined to be of superior gardening skills, the strict limitations on growing acreages and growing licenses, and the apparent cultural willingness to produce export crops for money were key to the success of this venture. Additionally, in India, there was never a concern of having a famine because too much opium was being grown.

European influences that had traction along the Javanese coasts and major cities did not find their way into the heart of Java until the mid 19th century. European contact with Javanese peasants was rare and as such the nature of rural and remote village life was greatly misunderstood.(Van Niel. p. 28) “However, the central function of the village in the production process of Java made it necessary for every system to develop a conception of what the village had ideally been and what it might possibly become again.”(Van Niel. p. 29)  

When the British took Java from the French in 1811, the new Lt.-Governor, T.S. Raffles, set about improving on the liberal changes that Marshal Daendels had begun instituting in 1810.(Van Niel. p. 27) Raffles’ Landrent system , inspired by the zamindari and ryotwari systems employed in India, was intended to be an honest attempt at improving life for the peasantry while enriching the colonial power. Interestingly enough, since the British intended to fully return the Dutch possession after defeating Napoleon, it is conceivable that more altruism was involved than commonly perceived. This altruism was, however, misguided and misinformed and as a result led to a further decline of the Javanese peasants quality of life.

The Europeans were under the impression (arguably a self-imposed delusion) that all villages were independent entities that controlled  their land and the manner in which it was divided between members of the village. In reality, most villages in central and eastern Java employed a communal landholding scheme with either permanent, fixed shares or rotating shares for its community members. Not everyone in the village had equal rights to land.(Van Niel. p. 30) There was an extensive patron-client system that was island wide. This system of internal village patronage in combination with the tribute and corvee paid to supra-village indigenous authorities constituted this native socio-economic structure.  This tribute and corvee was intended to allow the villages to attend to their own internal affairs without outside interference. This was, however, not often the case.

Raffles loathed the supra-village system and viewed these authorities as “despotic, tyrannical, arbitrary and corrupt”(Van Niel. p. 33) Because these supra-village authorities did no work of their own, yet remained the wealthiest of the Javanese, they could be a great burden on the villages that supported them. Raffles was a firm believer in the liberal ideals of justice, individual liberty and economic freedom and hoped to do away with the supra-village system while employing these newly disenfranchised Javanese as policemen and administrators. This move was intended to relieve the pressure felt by the average villager in the pursuits of honest labor and self-enrichment. By instituting these changes and removing these middlemen, Raffles permanently altered the indigenous culture of Java.(Van Niel. p.33)

The main aspect of the ‘Landrent System’ was replacing the tribute deliveries with an equitably assessed rent for the now British sovereign lands that the peasantry worked. This amount was determined by estimating the value of principle crops that were grown on each parcel of land. This system was supposed to encourage the peasantry to produce the valuable export commodities of coffee and sugar, as well as indigo, cotton and pepper to a lesser degree. The monies earned for this export cultivation were, the Europeans thought, sufficient incentive to continue to grow these particular crops. The truth, however, was that given the opportunity, the local preference was for growing their staple crop, rice. The British landrent amounted to approximately 40% of the value of this crop annually.(Van Niel. p.34) 

Because most villagers and their headmen didn’t understand money the way that the local elites and/or European, Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs did, many villages simply entrusted themselves to these individuals for guaranteed payment of their landrent in exchange for a portion of the crops, sometimes as high as 50%, and the return of corvee. This reality, effectively undid all that Raffles was attempting to do. Though this practice of buying a village was strictly illegal, there were loopholes to exploit.

For private estates there was an annual tax of three-quarters of one percent of the purchase price of the land. The owners made these payments by running their plantations as they saw fit. However, the people were free to leave and, therefore, the owners didn’t want to be overbearing causing a mass exodus of their labor force, essentially rendering their investment lost.(Van Niel. pp.33-34)  

Much to Raffles dismay, the British returned Java to the Dutch in 1816, before Raffles could see his project through to profitability. The Landrent System never worked the way it was supposed to because of three main reasons: one, the British weren’t in Java long enough for it to take root and bare fruit; two the international commodity trade was still suffering the effects of the recently concluded European wars; and three, the system was simply incompatible with the Javanese socio-economic structure.(Van Niel. p.34)

Javanese society was far less complex, specialized and driven by economic gain than Indian society. Leisure time was of significant importance to the native population. Before the introduction of European ‘systems’ the Javanese were familiar with growing crops to satisfy their own needs first, followed by the tribute to the supra-village authorities with anything left over to be used as barter for goods and/or services from other villages or for general export. Though money was not unknown, barter for goods and services was preferred in the villages of Java and by the local elites. This fact was to perturb British and later Dutch efforts and foment the forced introduction of copper coinage and paper money in the 1830s in efforts to reform indigenous preferences to fit the export needs of the colonial powers.(Van Niel. p.39) This, in effect, was the monetization of the Javanese village.

By 1822 the production of coffee, still the most profitable export commodity, had fallen so low that the NIE, the new Dutch East India government, had re-introduced forced labor to meet free market demand and increase profits for the colonial government. Private entrepreneurs, however, found it difficult to enforce land and labor contracts with the Javanese villagers. These business people would pay cash advances on proposed deliveries at harvest only to find that time and again the villagers wouldn’t deliver and thus these investors lost the advances as well as the crops. Under the liberal judicial systems that the British introduced and the Dutch maintained, these slighted investors had little or no recourse to these funds as the village lands had been proclaimed ‘inalienable’ and therefore not subject to lien or loss.(Van Niel. p.38) This situation occurred so frequently that a liquidity crises ensued that saw the closure of several prominent trading houses, both Dutch and British.(Van Niel. p.39)   

These financial pressures drove the Dutch King to approve a new system that promised to deliver results. This system was called the ‘Cultivation System’ and was envisaged by Johannes van den Bosch in 1828.(Van Niel. p.40)  This system called for a more creative approach to forced labor by requiring that one fifth of all village lands be planted with government commodity crops. These crops were sold to the government in order to pay the villages landrent. If the crop wasn’t sufficient to pay all of the rent the village had to make up the difference. Conversely, if the crop exceeded the landrent, the government would pay the balance at market rates. If the crop failed with no fault to the village then they would not be assessed, nor reimbursed. (Van Niel. p.42) In order to gain the full cooperation of the villages, additional prestige was given to the supra-village authorities, in the form of the new administrative elites, and the village headmen. The elites were guaranteed hereditary succession rights to their positions and after 1832, were also awarded profit sharing percentages of the export goods that emanated from their respective territories.(Van Niel. p.42)

By the 1840s the focus on marginal government commodity crops, like indigo, had resulted in the neglect of the staple food crop, rice. This led to recurring famines and extensive migration throughout Java.(Van Niel. p.44)  Several instruments were employed to alleviate some of this pressure on the villages. One such instrument was the systematic under-reporting of territorial populations and available land for cultivation in order to reduce the amount of government crops required. Though the government knew this practice occurred they chose to ignore it. Another instrument that developed was that of village specialization, not unlike the caste-specific crop cultivation in India, though not as distinct.(Van Niel. p.45)  More land was being cultivated, requiring more labor, leaving less time for traditional leisure activities.

The need for more labor to prevent these famines and share the work in order to allow for more leisure time was the impetus for the population explosion that followed. From the beginning to the middle of the 19th century Java’s population nearly tripled to 12 million and these peoples now occupied previously unsettled areas.(Van Niel. p.45)

Due to the dynamic difficulties experienced by the Dutch in Java, there was never a grand strategy for development, only reactions to immediate needs and practical forces.(Van Niel. p.46) The monetization of Javanese society in conjunction with the Dutch desire to maintain much of Javanese culture “and the Javanese tendency toward social stasis  combined to keep the vast majority of the Javanese at the level of coolie labor, with or without a money wage.”(Van Niel. p.48) While this ‘Cultivation System’ proved profitable to those private investors who took the risks and the rewards to the Dutch government were undeniable, the lasting effects on the Javanese were indisputable. While the British had colonized India and redefined several facets of the native cultures to suit their needs, they did not turn India into a plantation economy, essentially enslaving a nation. 

Objectives, Obstacles and Opportunities for American Grand Strategy in the 21st Century – Final Paper for Dr Andrew Ross 2008

POLS 400R    National Security Strategy and Defense Planning     Dr. Andrew Ross

4/29/08           Final Paper                                         Timothy Sipp

The World After Next: US Policy and Strategy After Next: The US Military After Next

Objectives, Obstacles and Opportunities for American Grand Strategy in the 21st Century

What will the World After Next look like? What will US policies be in the World After Next? What will the US Military After Next look like? Those questions must all be answered by the next and subsequent administrations. We will address those questions, here, with respect to arguably the single greatest challenge in geo-politics today: the realization that enduring global climate change must necessarily affect our assessments of national interests, commensurate policy, subsequent strategy and the alliances and assets required to facilitate the express political will of the United States of America.

How could global climate change influence policy, strategy and military planning? The great 5th century B.C.E. Chinese military genius and general, Sun Tzu, admonishes us to, “Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered. Know the ground, know the weather; your victory will then be total.”(Samuel B. Griffith. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. p. 129) Every field commander from Sun Tzu to Napoleon to Eisenhower knew it was vital to comprehend the nature of terrain and changing weather when determining strategic and tactical operations. There can be no greater change to weather and terrain than the lasting effects of global climate change. Therefore, I believe, it is prudent to consider planetary evolution as an important factor in determining sustainable policies that promote the national interests of the United States of America well into the future. It is imperative that we understand the implications of climate change on our foreign policy, our National Security Strtegy and the military assets (National Military Strategy) necessary to support the successful implementation of these informed policies.

According to the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change), climate change is a fact and not political rhetoric. Acceptance of the degree of changes and the impacts of those changes varies from lobbyist to lobbyist and across the aisles, but these facts remain unquestioned by a majority of the experts and are supported by the computer models: Several regions around the world, including Africa, India and China, will suffer immense drought and subsequent famines. China has already lost 1/5th of its arable land to development, pollution, and desertification since 1978. This pressure on global food supplies will be exacerbated by expanded use of ethanol as an alternative bio-fuel. Several regions will suffer a severe lack of drinking water (e.g. Africa, Asia, China, Latin America) and face the very real threat of having significant portions of their populations die of thirst. As the oceans rise and atypically intense storms become the norm, coastlines around the world will suffer; from the poorest, developing island-nations at risk in the Indian Ocean to centers of trade and commerce like Canton, London, NYC and Dubai (Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007).

The world’s economy will degrade with each natural disaster, aggravating the already competitive marketplace with extreme needs and increased scarcity. The Stern Review on the economic impacts of global climate change, commissioned by the British government in 2006, asserts that “business as usual” will cost the world around 20% of adjusted GDP by 2050. The increased competition could easily lead to rivalry and open conflict among regional powers and ultimately, the emerging great powers of Russia and China could find themselves at odds with the US over oil and influence in addition to their regional concerns of food and potable water. Though global climate change is not as urgent as preventing terrorists from getting and using WMDs, it will intensify our concerns with, and multiply the difficulties associated with resolving issues of energy security, water and food scarcity, sustainable global economic growth, and homeland defense.

However, global climate change is not without unique opportunities for America and indeed the world. We as a nation must adjust our thinking to incorporate a realistic and practical understanding of the potential for sustainable growth in light of climate change. Leveraging international alliances and using new policy instruments (modifying or replacing the Kyoto Protocol) and newer technologies, to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and assist developing nations to adapt, we will open markets for American products that previously didn’t exist. The US can enjoy increased economic growth at home while performing its role as  facilitator of liberty, stability and prosperity around the world. To these ends, let us consider what the World After Next may look like with regards to emerging powers, American foreign policy and the implications for military strategy and subsequent asset allocation.

Russia has recovered rather well from the ashes of the former Soviet Union and is a powerful actor in the regional affairs of both Europe and Asia. Russia’s economy grew significantly under Putin and is currently ranked eighth in the world. They hold the second largest reserves of US currency following China (CIA WFB 3/31/08). Russia’s strongest instrument of foreign policy is manipulation of its vast reserves of oil and natural gas with the effects of disrupted or limited supply on its customers, primarily member nations of the EU and former Soviet satellites. Russia is also in the enviable position of benefiting from global climate change. The opening of northern ports due to melting sea-ice facilitates increased trade and allows economically feasible access to significant oil and natural gas deposits. The Russian Federation will experience an increase in agricultural productivity due to a marked increase in arable land (Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007). This food surplus will be a boon to Russian exports and strengthen Russia’s position in both European and Asian markets for food and energy. This position could give Russia significant sway over the domestic politics and international relations of their clients. They have already proven to the world that they are not above breeching contracts and international law to make a point as evidenced by recently cutting off the gas to  Western Europe over disputes with Belarus (

Simultaneously, China is developing at an alarming rate while experiencing the pains associated with a lack of sufficient environmental regulations and enforcement. While much of the eastern regions and coastal areas of China are flourishing and the GDP per capita is reaching respectable levels, it has not been without a high price. A loss of 95% of its potable groundwater to pollution, the eradication of 20% of its farm land to unsustainable development, pollution and desertification and the permanent loss of 80% of the Qinghai-Tibetan glacier place China’s and much of Asia’s populations in imminent danger of starving to death or dieing of thirst. India will also experience extensive droughts and subsequent crop failures. In conjunction with India’s exploding population, this food and water shortage will compel India to look to regional imports to prevent a chronic humanitarian crisis (CIA WFB 3/31/08).

US interests necessarily include unencumbered global access for itself and its allies. In order for the US to promote its national values of liberty, stability and prosperity, the US must ensure its positions are not weakened by agreements between emerging regional and great powers. Though the US has no peer competitor, it is not difficult to imagine a potential coalition worthy of a second look.

In the World After Next, Russia will prosper and have surpluses of desperately needed food and energy to use as instruments of foreign policy. Russia’s largest and most powerful regional neighbors will most likely become their most valuable customers and if attention to ongoing developments isn’t vigilant, the nature of those relationships could transition to something reminiscent of the former Soviet client states of which China was one until the late 1950s and India until the 1990s.

With the advent of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2001, the world saw the desire of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to consolidate their efforts around common goals. The mission statement of the SCO is to prevent, “terrorism, separatism and extremism” in the region. The SCO has engaged in several cross-border joint military exercises in recent years, the largest of which involved 10,000 troops, but Russia’s Grigory Logninov claims that the SCO is not now and does not plan to become a military bloc and that these exercises are aimed at cross-border drug interdiction and disaster response (Joint Russo-Chinese Military Exercises: Aimed at Whom? Heritage Foundation. 2005).  Interestingly, Russia approached India with invitations to join the SCO in these joint exercises in 2006.

Russia, China and India have sufficiently large enough conventional forces to render them dangerous. More importantly, they have vibrant economies and enormous reserves of US currency that could be used to manipulate markets and political wills. They also have overlapping and sometimes conflicting interests in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East. It is debatable whether a coalition of these three states, China, Russia and India, could challenge the US in a direct, unlimited conflict by limited means. Regardless, they could significantly alter the face of international relations and erode US predominance if they were so inclined and left to do so.

How should this assessment of potential danger from the coalescing of emerging regional powers into  an economic and military bloc with global reach influence American policy in the World After Next? “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”(Samuel B. Griffith. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. p. 114)

What should US foreign policy and strategy be in order to ensure that the American national interests are being served with regards to unfettered global access and maintaining a world order favorable to continued international economic cooperation and security? What does the military need to look like in order to support these policies and strategies regarding traditional actors, while remaining flexible enough to counter rogue regimes and non-state actors? What new technologies, if any, would be exceptional assets in pursuit of these political objectives? Are nuclear weapons still needed to deter attacks against the homeland or have we entered a new phase in international relations where economic interdependence presents a variation on the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)?

First let us begin with a brief reminder from Baron Carl Von Clausewitz about the nature of policy and strategy in the conduct of war. According to Clausewitz, throughout history one principle remains clear and inviolable in matters of war. This principle is that policy must determine strategy and that the value of the political object determines the level of commitment. Clausewitz is clear in his assertion that policy driven strategy is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of miscalculation.“First, therefore, it is clear that war should never be thought of as something autonomous but always as an instrument of policy; otherwise the entire history of war would contradict us. Only this approach will enable us to penetrate the problem intelligently.”(Clausewitz. On War p. 128). With this understanding in mind let us proceed to establish a probable policy and strategy for addressing the traditional actors in the World After Next.

The US should take the lead in strengthening the international institutions associated with adapting to climate change and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This leadership position allows for more direction of the conversation at large and the opportunity to introduce  

new concepts for consideration. One such concept is a Technology Transfer Initiative (TTI) that in conjunction with Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) and Adaptations projects, under the Kyoto Protocol or its successor, could make significant reductions in emissions possible in the near future and add greatly to America’s prestige. These TTIs would basically set the framework for opening new markets to American products that are energy efficient, have a low carbon footprint or would be beneficial to a nation facing significant adaptation to climate change. These technologies would be made available at a discount to developing nations in exchange for carbon credits to be applied towards America’s emissions reductions commitments. The need to exploit this channel for engendering domestic economic expansion and building international goodwill can not be overstated.

China is in the unique position of being able to forcibly implement sweeping changes in its country. This fact is usually frowned upon, but could become quite useful when considering the implementation of highly efficient LED lighting and/or electrical appliances in efforts to reduce or at least slow the growth of energy demands in China. By providing China and other large developing nations, like India, with discounted technologies that lower energy consumption and reduce the cost of water treatment or waste disposal, we would alleviate several concerns that could drive these Asian nations into a closer working relationship with the Russian Federation.

Of course, one must consider the history of intellectual property rights abuses in China when considering these TTIs. These technologies are to be built in the US and sold to China (and the rest of the developing world), not licensed for production in China, unless otherwise specified. Any technology sold, we must assume, will be molested with the intent of discovering the method of its manufacture in order to circumvent payment to an outside vendor. However, this internationally monitored mechanism should discourage rampant fraud,  due to the funding initiatives for TTI, CDM and Adaptation making it less expensive to buy than to steal. Also, there would most certainly be an enormous loss of prestige if a nation was found to be violating the terms of these humanitarian efforts. Additionally, several of these technologies would require manufacturing facilities that would be economically unfeasible to build in a timely manner.

If any sensitive, advanced technologies were to be exported to China or India for the purposes of meeting emissions reductions for both countries, agreements could be enacted, restricting access to those sensitive technologies to cleared American personnel housed in embassy like compounds with similar rights under international law. The benefits of the technology would be appreciated by all participating nations and America could rest assured that its competitive advantage has not been lost. The difficulty would be in convincing the host nations of America’s altruism and intent to never use these items as foreign policy instruments like Russia has been prone to do with oil and gas. That being said, this opportunity to extend our grasp with a good faith offering to likely partners in a US led balance of power is paramount to alleviating the negative pressures of Globalization while ensuring its continued success and a re-balancing of trade to favor the US and its allies. 

This policy and strategy uses international diplomacy and economics as its tools for success. The military wouldn’t necessarily be transformed in order to compliment or support these endeavors. However, the branches of the military may find uses for the energy efficient technologies in their efforts to curb their own energy consumption and lower costs, extending their budgets.

Rogue regimes and non-state actors in the World After Next will still test the resolve of America and her allies. The nations of Iran, Syria and North Korea have continued to violate the international mandate on nuclear non-proliferation with clandestine programs seeking ownership of the enrichment lifecycle and, in the case of North Korea, have already developed nuclear weapons capabilities. In the future, the risk of nuclear strikes will most likely not come from a traditional actor but a rogue regime or terrorist group without the restraints of MAD or a significant economic base to be adversely effected by the ensuing aftermath of a nuclear attack on the US or a major power.

A nuclear attack on the US by any regional power, would necessarily involve a counter-attack and a huge economic loss by all parties involved in international trade and would therefore be counter productive for any rational actor. This proxy deterrence by prosperity, though reassuring, is no substitute for a vigilant counter-proliferation regime within the context of existing non-proliferation agreements and a functioning store of nuclear weapons.

For the foreseeable future, nuclear weapons will remain in integral portion of the national defense of the United States of America. (The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy. Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press. ForeignAffairs85.2 (March-April 2006)). Though the US and the Russian Federation agree that stockpile reductions are necessary, no one has established the minimum amount necessary to maintain a credible deterrence threat. It appears that if it were possible to ensure that no one had even a single nuclear device, that the nations possessing them and extensive conventional forces would be happy to do without the nuclear weapons. But in the absence of the ability to verify with certainty that no one was breaking the rules, it seems highly unlikely that unilateral abolition of nuclear weapons will occur, even in the World After Next. The US military wouldn’t need to change in order to maintain the status quo.

Dealings with rogue nations in the current geo-strategic environment will translate to the World After Next. The question remains: how do we encourage regime change without fomenting armed conflict and ensnaring ourselves in protracted engagements with high costs to the public morale and the treasury? In Iran, for example, we could tug on the threads of dissent and play the strings of suspicion to our advantage by turning the Supreme Council against the president. We could also provide Iranian intelligence with ample proof of rampant alcoholism and vice in the senior military leadership facilitating a Stalinist cleansing of the ranks. Subsequent losses of institutional knowledge, oversight and internal checks would facilitate the placement of our own assets or indigenous sympathizers within the Iranian government fomenting a relatively quiet and low cost counter-revolution. 

The Global War on Terror (GWOT) must be fought not just against armed militias with extremist mandates, but also against the very ideas of intolerance and hatred that drive these groups to armed conflict against unarmed civilian populations and military targets alike. This “hearts and minds” approach suggests extensive engagement with the parent cultures from which these fringe groups grew in efforts to understand the situation, co-opt militant concerns where possible and facilitate internal dialogue within the cultures in question to alleviate the perceived need to violently express their concerns outside of their borders (US Counter-terrorism Options: A Taxonomy Daniel Byman. 2007).

The best way for the US to ensure successful containment of terrorists is to continue working in cooperative security agreements and increase information sharing between its allies in the  GWOT. The existing US military strategy and inter-agency assets available for this difficult task are sufficient for monitoring, tracking and interdiction. Additional funding could be made available for specific technologies and training deemed necessary in defending against these asymmetrical threats. It is worth stating that care should be given to not trample on the individual liberties which we Americans hold dear in an effort to protect us from the enemy.    

At the same time that I recommend extending a hand to China and India with technology transfers intended to alleviate some of the negative pressures of Globalization and climate change and foster greater cooperation between our nations; I reaffirm the absolute commitment to defend America’s competitive advantage in crucial areas of science and technology.

To this end I recommend, the research and development of alternative encryption methods intended to defeat the looming and ever changing threat to our national security and basic telecommunications infrastructure. It seems that no sooner is a system installed that it can be compromised by an ardent attacker or group of hackers, state sponsored or otherwise.  There is an emerging branch of optical physics that promises a future without the possibility of hacker intrusion.

Slow Light Optics is the study of signal propagation and amplification in a gain medium. Erbium doped optical fibers receive input signals and amplify them as they pass from one end of the optical fiber to the other. A phenomenon unique to these fibers and the particular test setup allows for an observable ‘backward’ movement of a light pulse through the medium. This ‘backward’ movement of light is not observable to anyone but the on-site attendant and is entirely dependent on several physical variables that cannot be derived by any outside observer/hacker. This observable backward pulse of light could be used as an encryption key that is not dependent on any known or deducible mathematical algorithm and never passes through a CPU for processing. By circumventing the CPU and standard paths and utilizing a RAM-driver for light pulse verification, information could be encrypted and sent over open lines without anyone knowing that vital information was involved.

This slow light optical encryption system could be adapted to safeguard America’s most sensitive information, data centers and strategic operations centers from the prying eyes of China, India, Russia, Israel, or even that kid down the street. This technology is one of the few additional assets necessary to ensure lasting American predominance in the World After Next. Though it is yet to be realized, progress has been made in the last year towards the goal of turning a new branch of science into a mature technology tasked with protecting our most precious national interests, our intellectual property and 4C capabilities.  

Another computer technology that could greatly extend America’s capabilities is the development of advanced data architectures that allow for unparalleled computing power, speed, pattern matching and subsequent predictability with unheard of precision.  Based on complex, interactive, multiple-instance multi-dimensional Markovian decision matrices utilizing stateless object caching and an n-tiered distributed hardware and software architecture, this system is years ahead of even the most advanced efforts by any would-be peer competitors. Presented to a DARPA convention in Memphis in 2005 by a private entrepreneur, this system is the basis for advanced Artificially Intelligent agent based human interactions and can be designed to fit military, industrial, commercial, educational and personal needs. The effects of implementing this architecture are wide ranging; from immense savings in the reduction of duplicated efforts and training costs to unparalleled data integrity, data-mining and non-linear pattern matching. This data architecture and subsequent network system will become the backbone for future US efforts to predict terrorist attacks, track illicit funds, profile people of interest and calculate taxes more efficiently.

In addition to these advances in science and technology to protect our earth based assets is the need to safeguard our space based assets. The US military depends overwhelmingly on space based assets for 4C and command of the battle-space. How do we ensure the safety of our own satellites and space assets without weaponizing space? The simple answer, is with effective diplomacy. The realities, however, are less simple. Terrestrial-based hyper-velocity anti-ballistic missile (ABM) missiles will only suffice to shoot down an ASAT missile before it leaves the atmosphere. After that any Kinetic Kill Vehicle (KKV) collisions could create a catastrophic cascading debris field. Any space-based ASAT system or defensive measure that can be used without risking a catastrophic debris field will necessarily be based on focused energy or beam technologies.

With advances in infrared lasers for long-distance, line of site communications, we will see the phasing out of radio based satellite communications which are more easily intercepted. There is no language preventing the deployment of additional “communications” satellites whose distinct but clandestine purpose is to act like a remote control with “On-Again” “Off-Again” capabilities in order to take control of either a failing satellite or a satellite that a rogue regime or terrorist has commandeered for use as a missile (KKV) in order to attack US space based assets. These “communications” satellites could also serve as signal jammers preventing any ASAT missile from locking on its target. This would be a significant development spanning several agencies in the military and intelligence communities with far reaching implications for sustaining American power in the World After Next.

There is one more advanced technology, alluded to earlier, that could revolutionize not only military affairs but also assist us in weening ourselves from oil in a predictable and controllable way that doesn’t disrupt international commerce or facilitate global unrest. This technology has many forms from the nano to the macro, but they all employ the same physics. This technology translates vibration into usable and storable electricity with the aid of engineered materials that respond to physical deformation by generating a static discharge. These deformations could occur once a second, a thousand times a second or a trillion times a second. Each of these deformations generates a high voltage static discharge, that over time, can be rectified into high voltage, high frequency electric current that can be stored in high efficiency capacitors and used at will. This family of technologies could be adapted to fit active electrical generation via tuned hydrogen/oxygen combustion chambers, to passive noise-canceling Helmholtz resonators that also generate substantial electricity while lowering ambient noise. The possibilities for this family of technologies is nearly endless and requires only the foresight, insight, and fortitude to correctly estimate and counter fears and objections with well-crafted non-proliferation regimes and undeniable advantages to National Security and prosperity.

There is one remaining suggestion for the US in the World After Next. This is based on the understanding that refreshing the ranks is becoming increasingly difficult. As businesses often draw the best and the brightest from colleges today, and private security firms entice soldiers to their ranks instead of re-enlisting for additional tours, the US military is finding it increasingly difficult to field the forces it needs to adequately defend the national interests of America. In answer to this dilemma I offer the ‘mortgage meltdown’ and subsequent credit crunch. Already, three major banks that make student loans have stopped doing so due to the  loss of capital needed to make additional loans and the expectation that less jobs will be available for graduates,  imposing difficulties with timely repayment. Several other banking institutions are expected to follow suit by this fall. Federal student loans are the one item of debt that cannot be remedied by filing bankruptcy. The government would be wise to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to institute a “debt assumption and credit repair” enlistment structure that will open the opportunity to serve the nation to college graduates and not just prison alumni. To maintain the integrity and reputation of our armed forces, as the most highly trained and capable group of dedicated men and women in the world, we must broaden the pool of talent from which to recruit. As the draft in any form isn’t palatable to the American frame of mind, perhaps “debt relief” and “credit repair” would suffice to attract thousands of educated, diversely talented individuals to serve their nation. Each prospective recruit could negotiate a settlement that they felt was fair and equitable with the skill sets they bring to the military and hope to acquire while they serve. 

The US faces enormous challenges today, but no challenge is so great as the failure to recognize and exploit opportunities to extend our grasp with diverse, intelligent solutions to existing problems and likely future developments including planetary evolution. In the World After Next we must consider the emergence of traditional state actors with renewed vigor and ambitions, rogue states with ulterior motives and non-state actors with mega-deaths on their minds.

Implementing advanced technologies to bolster already impressive resources will work to ensure lasting American predominance into the foreseeable future, while opening new markets to American goods. The wise employment of international institutions concerned with climate change, supplemented by proactive coalition building in cooperative security arrangements, enables the US to selectively engage in diplomacy backed by the most powerful economy and military machine in human history. The United States of America has the ability to meet its objectives and overcome the obstacles of the World After Next and to enjoy the opportunities for sustainable growth while championing liberty, stability and prosperity.

Final Paper on Policy And Strategy taught by Prof Todd Greentree 2007

POLS 400G Strategy and Policy     Prof. Todd Greentree                   12/13/07

Timothy Sipp

Final Paper

  1. Are there any fundamental strategic lessons the United States should observe in order to ensure lasting strategic superiority?

Executive Admonitions: If it ain’t broke…: Three Thoughts on National Grand Strategy

First let us begin with the recommendations. In order for the United States of America to ensure a lasting strategic superiority, our Executive Branch should observe three fundamental strategic concepts when determining and implementing policy. First, policy should drive strategy; not the other way around. Second, the Executive Branch should not interfere with the content or integrity of military and intelligence analyses to bolster support for any policy. Last but not least is the mandate to the Executive to not commit the public to a war with unclear or unstated goals. By adhering to these basic principles of classic strategic thinking, an Executive may reduce the chances of self-defeating behavior and more successfully guide our nation towards peace and prosperity.

What is IT?: Analog Semantics: IT is a Fan-belt?

Crucial to the successful resolution of any conflict is the dependability of the national machine that is navigating international uncertainty with prestige and engaging the enemy where and when necessary. The machine of course is the basic structure and complex, but straight-forward character of Gen. Carl von Clausewitz’s Iron Triangle (IT) of military affairs or IT. Due to the rigid connotations of the 19th Century Prussian general and military philosopher’s seemingly unbreakable geometry, an adaptation, allowing for a more modern analog incorporating the flexibility and resilience necessary to succeed, is warranted. I think that a Fan-belt will do. Therefore, IT is a woven steel fiber reinforced rubber triangle wrapped around three drive shafts.

In the same way that the modern fan-belt is needed to drive several important parts of an engine so is the nature of a nation at war. The triangular fan-belt connects the head of government or the Executive to the military and intelligence communities and third, the public and Congress. If you don’t have the proper amount of tension between the drive shafts, there is either a loss of power due to slippage in the absence of sufficient friction. Or, there could be too much friction caused by tension applied by external forces risking a wearing down and eventual breakage of the belt altogether. Protection of the IT Fan-belt is necessary to prevent it from excess slippage or breakage due to changes in stress and pressure whether internally or externally applied. In war, whoever’s Iron Triangle Fan-belt breaks first, looses.

The Nature of Warfare: How America lost its way.

Throughout history one principle remains clear and inviolable in matters of war. This principle is that policy must determine strategy and that the value of the political object determines the level of commitment. Clausewitz is clear in his assertion that policy driven strategy is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of miscalculation. “First, therefore, it is clear that war should never be thought of as something autonomous but always as an instrument of policy; otherwise the entire history of war would contradict us. Only this approach will enable us to penetrate the problem intelligently.” (Clausewitz. p. 88)

Do the Math: A2+ B2 = C2: Cost Benefit Analyses

According to Clausewitz there is a rational calculus to war which measures the cost and the benefit of taking a particular action or course of action in pursuit of a political object. This calculus is dependent on policy makers and statesmen determining the best policy for a nation regarding the economy, international diplomacy and prestige, focused on reasonable grand strategy and national best interests. Upon completion of this initial phase of determination the civilian government submits their policy recommendations to the military and intelligence communities to assess the feasibility of successfully conducting said policies. The military leadership and intelligence community vet the policy for any possible military conflicts or a potential conflict of national interests.

The military and intelligence communities bring their analyses back to the policy makers with their recommendations. At this point the discussion hinges on the necessary commitment of both groups to do their respective jobs to the best of their ability. In this manner a policy may be developed that is both in the national interests and militarily advisable. If this discourse fails in any way to produce an internally consistent and coherent policy with clear political objectives and a complimentary military course of action, a nation runs the risk of self-defeating behavior.

Strategically Speaking: Tomāto, Tomâto: The Best Defense…

This potentially self– defeating behavior is understood as a mismatch between policy and strategy. The US policy of Containment during the Cold War was just such an example.

Containment was a defensive strategy; primarily consisting of reactionary posturing and effective public relations that subsequently produced the policy of Containment. Clausewitz contends that this is the fundamental principle that should be observed; under no circumstances should strategy produce a policy, for strategy outside of political definitions is self-perpetuating. The whole point of the Cold War was to not fight and Containment provided a periphery for proxy wars between the super powers without an all out war. As a result of a stated policy of Containment the United States was automatically obliged to counter any Soviet moves with American forces anywhere in the world or risk suffering a loss of prestige.

Containment did allow the US and her Allies to counter force with force and let the opponent set the level of intensity. This facilitated the perception that the Soviets were the aggressors and that the Americans and Allies were just looking out for the “little guy” (Defense without Purpose, Summers). Being a reactionary posture, Containment means that the opponent constantly and consistently chooses the battle to be fought, including the time and place. Sun Tzu tells us, “those skilled at making the enemy move do so by creating a situation to which he must conform; they entice him with something he is certain to take, and with lures of ostensible profit they await him in strength.” (Sun Tzu. p. 93)

This was certainly the case with Vietnam towards the end of the war. The American politicians correctly feared that invading or even bombing North Vietnam’s cities and infrastructure could entice the Chinese or the Soviets to become more heavily involved. (We found out after the war that the Chinese had mobilized 300,000 troops in North Vietnam awaiting a US led invasion which would have certainly ended in disaster.) As a result the US military became severely restricted in its ability to strike back at the enemy to effect (Defense without Purpose, Summers). Because of this strategically driven political choice, American forces were denied the opportunity to fight for well defined objectives and achieve victory. But they were still called upon to suffer the friction of war.

Was IT Worth the Rub?: The Forces of Friction: Is the “War” under Warranty?

Friction is inherent in all matters of war but none felt as great as that experienced by combat troops. Friction is the material, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual cost of conflict; from broken machines to broken wills (Clausewitz. p. 119 – 121). The offset to friction is the pursuit of the political object through military means in hopes of achieving victory. The sum of friction and conviction can be expressed as morale. Sun Tzu discusses morale on page 64 in terms of moral influence which he defines as, “that which causes the people to be in harmony with their leaders, so that they will accompany them in life and unto death without fear of moral peril.” Furthermore, Chang Yu reminds us that the Book of Changes states that, “In happiness at overcoming difficulties, people forget the danger of death.” Due to the severe limitations placed on the American military in striking back at the enemy, the opportunity to enjoy overcoming difficulties never occurred, exacting a heavy toll on American morale at home and in the field.

Furthermore, the strategic defense and subsequent policies that comprised Containment resulted in tactical defensives without counterattacks that were appropriate to the value of the stated political objective. To this day there remains no discernable and agreed upon positive political objective with reasonable metrics at the heart of the Vietnam Conflict. Clausewitz points out that a purely defensive stance doesn’t promote victory. It just prevents defeat. Therefore, defense should be used to alter the balance of forces into our favor then transition to the attack. “While he is enjoying this advantage, he must strike back, or he will court destruction.” (Clausewitz. p. 370) In essence, one should never enter into war for negative (defensive) purposes without resolving to determine the appropriate positive (offensive) goals for which to strive, if and when the opportunity should arise. British Brigadier Shelford Bidwell wrote after the Vietnam War; “If this [offensive strategy] was not politically realistic, then the war should not have been fought at all.”

Foreign Policy: A President’s Prerogative: i President

The nature of IT, the Iron Triangle Fan-belt, is such that each member is intended to act independently but in concert with it’s constituents to compliment each other in pursuit of a common goal. The government, as represented here by the Executive Branch, determines policy. The military and intelligence communities confer and assess the situation and the policy in question. Once the analyses have been made, they are presented to the Executive Branch for review and implementation.

It is at this point, if advisable, that the Executive prepares the people for war; to take up the slack by applying additional tension through expansion. This expansion is the Presidential Initiative in foreign policy. According to Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, it is the job of the Executive to rally the public and Congress behind the policy and dedicate their energies to pursuing the political objective. It is the military’s job to deploy and engage while the intelligence communities support both the military and Executive with additional assessments.

Together these three sides of the Iron Triangle Fan-Belt share in the friction of war and support each other. Any additional tension from one side of the triangle is exerted on and felt by the other sides of the triangle in accordance to their level of commitment or extension. If all of the segments of our nation: executive, military/intelligence, and the public/Congress are fully extended in opposing directions this can disrupt the static equilibrium that is equally displacing the external pressures of conflict facilitating a breakage, imperiling the nation.

A Test of Wills: Politics and Duty: Popularity and Fidelity

For example, if the people do not agree with the conflict or the executive’s handling of it unrest may result. This dissatisfaction could lead to protests, riots and in the worst case scenario, a coup; thus a complete failure of the Iron Triangle Fan-belt. Or, the Executive may think a policy prudent that the military and intelligence communities do not or that the known intelligence suggests is unnecessary. In this case, many Executives heed the advice of their council. Some do not, usually to their detriment and that of the nation. For if an Executive asserts their policy opinions to be the wiser they can bring enormous weight to bear on individuals within the military and intelligence communities to amend their opinions to more amiable ends and the implementation of policy. This additional internal applied pressure can stretch the Fan-belt thin as one side bends to the others will, weakening the Fan-belt’s ability to resist outside forces commensurate with accompanying screeches. It can be the equivalent of working against yourself and empowering your enemy.

Clausewitz preferred to remove himself rather than follow policy that he knew went against national interests. In 1812 Clausewitz along with many Prussian officers joined the Russo-German Legion and fought Napoleon from 1812 – 1813 and helped negotiate the Convention of Tauroggen (1812), which prepared the way for the coalition of Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain that ultimately defeated Napoleon. Clausewitz felt his duty dictated his choice to fight for what he knew to be right. It is this same fidelity to duty that is required of all service members, whether military or intelligence, in order to maintain a strong Iron Triangle and ensure that power has traction. Another reason why it is important to ensure that military and intelligence assessments are devoid of political spin can be ascertained from page 122 of Harry S. Dent’s book, Cover Up: The Watergate in All of Us, published in 1986 by Here’s Life Publishers Inc.     

“…In a secret letter to General Paul Gaynor in January, 1973, McCord explained his concerns in apocalyptic terms:

‘When the hundreds of dedicated fine men and women of CIA no longer write intelligence summaries and reports with integrity, without fear of political recrimination-when their fine director [Richard Helms] is being summarily discharged in order to make way for a politician who will write or rewrite intelligence the way the politicians want them [sic] written, instead of the way truth and best judgment dictates, our nation is in the deepest of trouble and freedom itself was never so imperiled.’
The mysterious wiretap expert sent a written threat to the White House in another January 1973 letter. It was addressed to a covert Dean investigator, Jack Caulfield.
‘If Helms goes and the Watergate operation is laid at the CIA’s feet, where it does not belong, every tree in the forest will fall. It will be a scorched desert….’”   

Harry S. Dent served as White House Special Counsel from 1968-1972. This was during the Nixon administration’s Watergate Scandal; a time of great unrest for an America embroiled in the Vietnam War. Whether the reason is to preserve the nation or just to ensure the integrity of its members, it has proven counter to national interests to politicize military intelligence by pressuring service members to dereliction of duty while committing the public to a war of unclear or unstated goals.

National Identity: A President’s Charge: A People’s Honor

According to Clausewitz, the final piece of the Iron Triangle is the people of a nation, the public. It is the public that the Executive needs to court in order to successfully implement a foreign policy involving military engagements, especially if the war becomes protracted (Sun Tzu. p. 64). It is the public who supplies the fresh recruits to the military’s ranks. It is the public who pays the fiscal price of war. It is the public who honors their dead. Yet it is the public who has least to say in determining policy objectives. The public depends on the integrity and wisdom of its leadership to inform them and guide them through difficult times. It is this essential trust, like children with a father figure, which an Executive must closely guard and never betray.

The Executive, in charge of determining foreign policy, is the de facto steward of our National Character and Cultural Identity (Ch 13. New American Democracy, 5th ed. Fiorina, et al. 2006.New York: Pearson Longman.). Each policy they enact will serve to shape and reshape the way the world perceives us as a nation and how we see ourselves as a people. It is because of this inextricable tie that binds National Character and Cultural Identity to acts of policy and strategy that an Executive should ensure that policy is clearly stated and strategically advisable. For many Americans the intersection of the Vietnam War and Watergate was the end of innocence in American politics. The Presidency was tarnished, the military haggard and the people divided. The national prestige of America, what it meant to be an American, was so severely damaged by those events that throughout his Presidency (1980- 1988) Ronald Reagan focused on restoring prestige and pride to the Oval Office and to the people of the United States (Ch 13. New American Democracy, 5th ed. Fiorina, et al. 2006.New York: Pearson Longman.).

Preemption as Containment: In Conclusion: Again…

Another example of unclear or unstated goals in war causing great internal and external friction was the Bush administrations assertion that Iraq was associated with 9/11 and possessed WMDs with intent. Four years after the invasion into Iraq, the American people are tired of war and even more upset at what many perceive as a betrayal of trust by their President and his staff. The justification for war in Iraq became the liberation of the Iraqi people from Sadaam Hussein when the intelligence assessments indicating the presence of WMDs proved faulty. This lack of fidelity to stated goals and the lack of a smoking gun on WMDs have cost the US prestige and credibility on the world stage. The known abuses of detainees and further suspicions on torture have removed the mandate on human rights from the US and placed it dangerously up for grabs. The ongoing conflict serves as a reminder to adhere to the fundamentals of strategy and policy with a mind towards moral influence.

Turn On: Tune In: Tune Up

As we have seen from the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq, the lack of clearly stated, positive goals and fidelity to duty can spell disaster. The politicization of intelligence in conjunction with unclear or unstated goals can leave the public feeling lied to or manipulated, which can exponentially increase the friction of war felt by a nation in the absence of a strong and broad coalition. These demoralizing effects can defeat a nation faster than any external enemy could hope for on the battlefield. In light of these actualities, just as maintaining the appropriate tension on your fan-belt is necessary for ensured longevity and proper function of a motor, it seems it is always in the best interests of a nation for an Executive to pursue sound policy supported by proven strategy with the blessing of an informed public.