February 24, 2004

Dr. Strangelove Strikes Again: Thinking the Unthinkable

It took me the better part of two months to get an excerpt from a report Andrew Marshall organized over five years ago. Today, we find out via the linked article below that he's been up even more doom-mongering. Keep in mind, Marshall gets paid to theorize about the worst case. It's also that interesting that this article says Marshall is the man behind Rumsfeld's "transformation" initiative in the military (see also the Army canceling the Comanche helicopter.) Marshall, who is known as Yoda to his acolytes, certainly has a history as in imaginative thinker about future threats. But dollars for donuts, I'd say, based on what I know, John Boyd's contribution to "grand strategy" and strategic decision making is more more lasting. But then again, everything Marshall writes is classified, and Boyd hardly wrote down anything! We'll have to trust the secondary source material. As for Marshall began his Pentagon career in 1974 when then Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger created the job Marshall now occupies. He's been in the same office ever since (Net Assessment). Boyd was in his heyday in the early '70s. Boyd and his reformist colleagues in the Pentagon managed to get Schelsinger to support the development of the A-10 for the Army ( a plane the Army didn't want but has proven more durable than many of the Army's more expensive choppers), and the F-16 for the Air Force. Since then, Marshall has been reappointed to his office by every President. His latest document, according to commondreams.org "predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. " Here's more from the article. 'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.' "The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defense is a priority. "The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defense adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Remember, it's only a report. Incidentally, one of Marshall's acolytes is none other than James Roche, the man who is now Secretary of the Air Force and behind many of the initiative I published earlier today. He was also the keynote speaker at the UAV conference I attended in December, 2003. Why does this any of this matter to our investments? It's a reminder that there are powerful interests within the U.S. government devoted to the study and fighting of future conflict. Ideological objections aside, you could say it's good we have smart people thinking about future enemies. You could also say this kind of endemic thinking creates a momentum of events all its own. Either way, it appeared for a while, during the height of the Nasdaq bubble, that we'd entered a global golden age of free trade, unfettered markets, and peace. The idea that nation states or warfare would have disruptive influences on the price of stocks or the quality of life briefly disappeared. It never went away, though. And now, it's back. It's impossible to predict how the different foreign policies of the nations of the world will affect the pace of economic liberalization. Perhaps they'll bring it to a griding halt. But without knowing what exactly will happen or when, one thing we do know is this: this current world order is much less stable and sturdy that we thought. Whether its systemic risk from the credit-hungry GSEs, or a new age of combative nation states...it's not all lexuses and olive trees anymore.


Post a Comment

<< Home