Two excellent and important articles follow. They address the corrupt nature of America’s general officer corps, and they are examples of journalism and think-tank work at their best.
“Corrupt officer corps?” An overstatement? You be the judge.
The first article is yet another in USA Today‘s Tom Vandenbrook’s long and continuing series about DOD’s “mentor” program. It describes corrupt behavior in indisputable terms. The second by POGO’s Ben Freeman describes how the general officer corps has reversed former SecDef Gates’ attempt at a modest reduction in officer bloat, a reversal enabled by Leon Panetta. (What next should we expect from this politician occupying the top position in America’s most important national security agency?)
The issues are not just ethics and cost. Bloated officer corps are a characteristic of militaries in decline, or rather that have already declined and lose wars. The attachment is a briefing given in recent years by an anonymous and highly respected, at least by me, retired military officer.
It not just a budget crisis the Pentagon is experiencing; it’s also a leadership crisis — especially at the top. Moreover, the two are directly related.
I strongly recommend watching the whole program, it’s an excellent discussion: “How does the Occupy Wall Street movement move from “the outrage phase” to the “hope phase,” and imagine a new economic model?
Excerpt: It’s perfectly possible that this perception will be borne out, that the raucous events of November 17 were the last gasps of a rigor-mortizing rebellion. But no one seriously involved in OWS buys a word of it. What they believe instead is that, after a brief period of retrenchment, the protests will be back even bigger and with a vengeance in the spring—when, with the unfurling of the presidential election, the whole world will be watching
WASHINGTON — Taking a broad swipe at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s practice of allowing companies to settle cases without admitting that they had done anything wrong, a federal judge on Monday rejected a $285 million settlement between Citigroup and the agency.
NOTE: I’m in the process of modernizing conflict theory (for wars, insurgencies, protests, etc.) and needed to get this backgrounder on John Boyd’s thinking out of the way first. IF any part of it is unclear/difficult to understand, let me know. I’ll improve it.
What is Conflict?
To answer this question, let’s start with a theory of conflict developed by the late great John Boyd, America’s best military thinker. It’s a bit of a journey, but trust me, it’s worth the effort.
There are two great stories from the news that are worth reading:
A new bill called the National Defense Authorization act is on its way (promoted by Senator John McCain). This bill will make it legal for the federal government to arrest (both within and outside US borders) and hold indefinitely (without trial) anybody (including US citizens). Essentially, this makes it possible for the US military to take on the role and function of a secret police force.
How Hank Paulson, while he was the US Treasury Secretary (at a time when he was arguably the most important gov’t official in the world), gave his cronies in the global financial industry a continuous stream of inside information on what the government would do to stop 2008 financial crisis (this info helped this inside group hedge themselves and profit while nobody else could).
The following New Yorker article is a good complement to the Bloomberg Businessweek article on David Graeber that I referred to in an earlier blog post. It gives more background on how the original Occupy Wall Street idea emerged from Adbusters magazine. It describes some of the de facto leaders who became particularly influential in OWS’s LEADERFUL unfolding. (Note that I believe the adjective “leaderless” misses the whole point of the Occupy movement’s power, which involves inviting anyone and everyone into whatever diverse and often ad hoc leadership roles they have passion or competence for.)
I appreciate the article’s concluding insight that the recently forced evacuations of so many Occupy encampments – particularly the Wall Street one – is stimulating the Occupy movement to shift gears into new form(s) that are currently barely perceived and largely unpredictable. The author helps us see all this through the eyes of the anarchists who have been its visionaries and facilitators. We begin to sense how they can face the uncertain future of their movement with such positive – even thrilled – expectation.
It seems to me that OWS has for months been an inkblot – a Rorschach test – upon which diverse commentators project their individual hopes, fears, judgments and assumptions. I wonder if now OWS is about to become an empty loom upon which diverse actors weave ten thousand strands of transformation that we can only vaguely sense but not fully see. I suspect that loom, being merely an idea and an invitation, will not be readily suppressed.