Friday, June 5, 2009

One for the Refrigerator Door..

Apparently, Tom Ricks (Making the Corps, Fiasco, The Gamble) thinks I'm spending too much time with defense intellectuals. Since I would never use this blog as a forum for shameless name-dropping, I'll just point towards a certain Belviderean with some deep military roots and the initials CRK for pointing me towards The Best Defense in the first place.

Here is the comment that led to that post:

"I refuse to support ANY attempt to pivot the narrative unless the pivoter is willing to offer enough granularity and fidelity to truly allow the end-user some insight on the effects-based targeting it will foster. Otherwise, we're chasing our tail down a rabbit hole filled with self-licking ice cream cones.

We're dealing with a large delta and a steep learning curve here, so we need to get comfortable being uncomfortable, recognizing that the only constant in this environment is...change.

I believe that Clausewitz once said that Sun-Tzu once said that victory in one thousand battles will be complete only when we have swallowed the dominant paradigm wholesale and then made sure that we've all boarded the bus to Abilene!"


C R Krieger said...

It was great!  Reminded me of those three column lists of words for writing fitness reports.  Pick one from each column in some order.

Trying to find new words to describe your change in vector for defense is always a challenge.  What will sell?  Do you even have a new idea?  But, the quote above the post on your words sums up the problem.  Talking about giving the Navy nuclear powered submarines, a retired Admiral said:  "You had to essentially destroy the diesel boat community in order to ensure that the nuclear boats could emerge."

When one is playing with peoples' lives one needs to be a bit conservative.  That sometimes leads to doing things that are actually dumb.  Turns out that uparmoring all those vehicles in Iraq actually worked against winning the COIN war there.

Regards  —  Cliff

Clifford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon and Kate said...


The New Englander said...


Glad you liked...and of course the point about finding new ways to say something is good -- in many cases, cliches become so used because they really do describe a situation well..

..but a good sniff test of bad writing is when something is so obvious it shouldn't said (Ricks did another post on this subject). It's like, when you say "The road ahead is an uncertain one," when is the road ahead EVER certain!?!?

Ditto for the steep learning curve cliche...for all the times I've heard that, when has anyone ever described a relatively flat learning curve? Or said the only constant would be constancy?

Still, I'll just continue to use cliches and continue to make fun of myself for doing it..


The New Englander said...

I am going to post a response here that came to me via e-mail because the writer wished to preserve relative anonymity. With the writer's permission, here is the text:

My experience is that people who solely identify themselves as "American," and especially those who have lived their entire life within the same region or country, have a very difficult time describing their cultural characteristics, which lends to the image of soul-lessness.

I think that differences between peoples living in this country are less about culture or even general life experience (white people grow up in projects too). I think that the experiences that will help Sotomayor are about not looking or sounding "white." I think it is a person's physical characteristics - color of skin, shape of eyes, nose, lips, kinkiness of hair, etc. and an accent - that still engenders negative, unconscious stereotypes that lead to experiences of discrimination, even when the one doing the discriminating is completely unaware of what they are doing.

The notion of white superiority, which was embedded in our laws until just half a century ago, still lingers in the deep recesses of the psyche of both whites and non-whites (for non-whites, it is called "internalized oppression). As a country, we are trying to free ourselves of this archetype. We rejoiced in the election of Obama because it showed that we are able to overcome our own latent prejudices. We felt so good on that night - it wasn't just about Obama - it was about ourselves as well. Appointing Sotomayor will do the same - it shows us that no matter how deeply entrenched the stereotypes, we can get past them. Remember a few years ago in Lowell when some South Asian Indian students from UML were the victims of a hate crime because the perpetrators thought they were Arabs? While that is an extreme, it is the experience of being a person "of color" that makes their "experiences" different. All cultures share some major common values: love of their children, religiosity, hard work, a desire for upward mobility, a desire to live in peace, etc., even though these can be expressed differently. On the other hand, there are enormous cultural differences among Americans, which is why we have left and right wing politics and values. It's also why we have such a hard time describing American Culture.

Thanks for making me think!