Fellowship of Punditry

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Cul Heath

Mick Arran

Jeffrey Barbose

Inspector Lohmann

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Rep. Mark B. Cohen

The Fellowship is accepting new members. Inquire within.

The Sages

  • David Weinberger
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  • Rebecca MacKinnon
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    Distinguished Colleagues

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  • Into the Blogosphere
  • George Orwell

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    Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

    But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

    Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

    Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

    In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

    At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

    Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

    John Stuart Mill

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

    The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

    The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

    Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

    A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Mark Twain

    Don't let schooling interfere with your education.

    All generalizations are false, including this one.

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

    The Public is merely a multiplied "me."

    Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

    Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Winston Churchill

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

    Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.

    Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

    In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

    Otto Von Bismarck

    When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.

    I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.

    Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

    Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.


    A witty saying proves nothing.

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

    When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

    To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

    It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

    Karl Marx

    Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.

    All I know is I'm not a Marxist.

    The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

    Saturday, June 26, 2004

    Fighting Networks with Networks

    By Nick

    Fight Networks with Networks
    By John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt of the RAND Corporation
    John Arquilla is associate professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and a consultant to RAND. David Ronfeldt is a senior social scientist at RAND.

    Assuming that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network is our principal adversary, then we must outperform his network at all five levels at which information-age networks need to excel: the organizational, narrative, doctrinal, technological, and social.

    First, at the organizational level, a global confrontation is now raging between hierarchical/state actors and networked/nonstate actors. The age of hierarchies is giving way to an age of networks. It is not yet clear whether the al-Qaeda network has a single hub revolving around bin Laden or has multiple hubs. If it has a single hub, then bin Laden's death or capture would signal the defeat of his network. However, the more a network takes the form of a multi-hub "spider's web" design, with multiple centers and peripheries, as may be the case with al-Qaeda, the more redundant and resilient it will be — and the harder to defeat.

    Therefore, the United States, its allies, and friends must learn to network better with each other. Some of this is already happening with intelligence sharing, but much more must be done. It will be a major challenge for the cumbersome American bureaucracy to achieve deep, selective, all-channel networking among the military, law enforcement, and intelligence elements whose collaboration is crucial for success. U.S. counterterrorism agencies have been headed in this direction for years, but interagency rivalries and distrust have too often slowed progress.

    Second, at the narrative level, Western ideas about the spread of free markets, free peoples, and open societies contend with Muslim convictions about the exploitative, invasive, and demeaning nature of Western incursions into the Islamic world. The United States has toughened its narrative by deeming the terrorist attacks "acts of war" against "the civilized world," and American public opinion has been galvanized by the revival of the Pearl Harbor metaphor.

    The United States may hold the edge in the "battle of the story" in much of the world, but it will have to think deeply about how to retain that edge as U.S. forces take action in the Middle East. More than ever, we must craft an "information strategy" complete with truth-seeking teams of "special media forces" that could discover and disseminate accurate information. And wherever we use military force, we must beware of causing noncombatant casualties, so that we are not vulnerable to the countercharge of being "state terrorists."

    Third, in terms of doctrine (or strategy), the al-Qaeda network apparently grasps the value of attacking from multiple directions by dispersed small units. Bin Laden and his cohorts appear to follow a swarm-like doctrine. Swarming entails a campaign of episodic, pulsing attacks by various nodes of the network at locations sprawled across global space and time. Against this doctrine, the United States has seemingly little to pose, as yet. The offensive part of U.S. doctrine is still based on aging notions of strategic bombardment, which is not likely to be a winning approach. A whole new doctrine based on small-unit swarming should be developed, emphasizing special forces and limited air power. The air power would be used mostly to provide fire support to our swarming teams on the ground.

    Fourth, at the technological level, the United States possesses a vast array of very advanced systems, while al-Qaeda has relatively few. Nevertheless, perhaps only a small portion of our technological systems has utility against dispersed, networked terrorists.

    Fifth, at the social level, the al-Qaeda network features tight religious and kinship bonds among people who share a tribal, clannish view of "us" versus "them." In this regard, the United States faces a profound challenge. If the Pearl Harbor metaphor holds up, and if U.S. operations result in successful early counterstrikes, then there may be unusual public solidarity to sustain the war on terrorism. But a different social divide could also emerge between the United States and Europe over whether the counterstrikes should follow a "war" or a "law enforcement" paradigm.

    In summary, al-Qaeda seems to hold advantages at the organizational, doctrinal, and social levels. The United States and its allies probably hold only marginal advantages at the narrative and technological levels. Yet there appears to be little room for al-Qaeda to improve. In contrast, there is much room for the United States and its allies to improve, mostly at the organizational and doctrinal levels. Simply put, the West must build its own networks and learn to swarm the enemy network until it can be destroyed. At its heart, netwar — or information-oriented conflict waged by networks — is far more about organization and doctrine than it is about technology. It's high time we realize this.

    posted by Nick at 6/26/2004 03:26:00 PM |

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    "Netpolitik is a new style of diplomacy that seeks to exploit the powerful capabilities of the Internet to shape politics, culture, values, and personal identity. But unlike Realpolitik — which seeks to advance a nation’s political interests through amoral coercion — Netpolitik traffics in “softer” issues such as moral legitimacy, culturalidentity, societal values, and public perception." - The Rise of Netpolitik

    PUN-DIT (n) : A learned man; a teacher; a source of opinion; a critic: a political pundit.

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