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US electorate's oversight: Iraqi opinions as to their condition and their perceptions of US/Coalition occupation

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A review of Iraqi opinions as to their condition and their perceptions of US/Coalition occupation was merited as it is this writer's opinion that our position in an Iraqi hearts and minds campaign is perilous yet those opinions are remote from what is generally reported in the US high street press.

Having last covered Iraqi opinion surveys in May 2005 in Tribal and religious impacts among Iraqi and foreign Muslim elements, continued which reached back to a CSIS poll and its update, and an ICRSS poll of June 2004, the driver for this review of 2003-2005 polls was a secret UK Ministry of Defence poll executed nationally by an "Iraqi university research team [in August 2005] that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces." Shattering any illusion of a successful hearts and minds campaign, the poll's most arresting conclusion was that "up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks" against British forces and that less "than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security":

The report profiles those likely to carry out attacks against British and American troops as being "less than 26 years of age, more likely to want a job, more likely to have been looking for work in the last four weeks and less likely to have enough money even for their basic needs".

The Tory shadow defence minister, Andrew Robathan, said that "the poll clearly showed a complete failure of [UK] Government policy." Other points from the poll:

  • 45% of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified, up to 65% in British-controlled Maysan province and down to 25% in Basra
  • 82% are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops
  • Less than one % believe coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security
  • 67% feel less secure because of the occupation
  • 43% believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened
  • 72% do not have confidence in the multi-national forces

Responses on infrastructure reconstruction were no better:

  • 71% rarely get safe clean water
  • 47% never have enough electricity
  • 70% say their sewerage system rarely works
  • 40% of southern Iraqis are unemployed

One of the few Iraqi polls to gain lay coverage in the UK and US, it comes as little surprise to seasoned poll watchers. As this UK poll has not been formally released, unlike other polls over a three year period, we do not know sample size and demographics, exact dates and precise questions, but comparison to other polls show remarkable continuity. As Juan Cole noted, an April 2004 USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll showed similar results - and it was taken before the fighting in Fallujah and Najaf between insurgents and US forces. The question was:

To what extent can you personally justify the following actions morally: can be completely justified; can be somewhat justified, can be justified sometimes, sometimes cannot; somewhat cannot be justified; cannot be justified at all:

A. U.S.-British military action in Iraq
B. Current attacks against US forces in Iraq
C. Attacks and bombings targeting Iraqi police

Back to Cole: Then, 57 percent of Iraqis wanted coalition troops out immediately, and about half said that there were circumstances in which it was legitimate to attack US troops. Attitudes now are more negative, but the attitudes revealed in the British Ministry of Defense poll have been there for some time on about the same orders of magnitude.

Let's walk from 2003 forward, keeping in mind Ackerman's caveat that caution should be attached to "Iraqi polling [that] occurs in a climate of chaos, so its results should be understood as impressionistic rather than precise."

The last poll that was modestly favorable to US forces (then the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)) was an October 2003 Department of State Office of Research opinion analysis, Iraqi Public Has Wide Future Political System, which commissioned the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS) - a group approved by the CPA - in Baghdad to carry out the fieldwork. ICRSS polls, pro and con, have gravitas as they were led by now Minister of Defense, Sadoon al-Dulaimi, a Sunni native of Ramadi, a former officer in Hussein's General Security Directorate, fled to the UK where he earned a PhD in socio-psychology, joined the Iraqi opposition, returning to Iraq to run ICRSS in 2003. Much of the ICRSS polls have shown "Iraqis' unfavorable views of the U.S. presence in their country."

On 5 April, 2004, the AP reported out a poll conducted by Oxford Research International as Poll: Most Iraq Shia Arabs Oppose Attacks which allows the casual observer to think things are going well, but Juan Cole dug deeper:

An opinion pole taken in late February showed that 10 % of Iraq's Shiites say attacks on US troops are "acceptable." But 30% of Sunni Arabs say such attacks are acceptable, and fully 70% of Anbar province approves of attacking Americans. (Anbar is where Ramadi, Fallujah, Hadithah and Habbaniyah are, with a population of 1.25 million or 5% of Iraq--those who approve of attacks are 875,000).

Given that Iraq's 25 million people are 65% Shiites and 16% Sunni, the number of those who dislike Americans enough to approve of attacks are 2.8 million, with Shiites leading in absolute numbers by virtue of their numbers. That is substantive support from which Baathists, jihadists, nationalists and religious actors can draw upon for their attacks.

By April-May 2004, ICRSS polls such as Results of Public Opinion Poll #3 were summarized as:

Outside of officialdom, there is little appetite for allowing Americans to stay. Anyone still talking about liberation is shushed as disingenuous, especially now that the image of a Saddam Hussein statue crashing to the ground is no longer symbolic of the coalition's intentions. Instead, many Iraqis said, today's American presence is best summed up in photos of a laughing female American soldier leading a nude Iraqi prisoner by a dog leash.

[Dulaimi's] grim poll doesn't even take in the prisoner scandal's effects. It was conducted in mid-April in seven Iraqi cities [and had not been made public as of this article]. [Dulaimi stated that] prisoner abuse and other coalition missteps now are fueling a dangerous blend of Islamism and tribalism. For example, while American officials insist that only fringe elements support the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr, a majority of Iraqis crossed ethnic and sectarian lines to name him the second most-respected man in Iraq, according to the coalition-funded poll. [Dulaimi said] "I don't know why the (Coalition Provisional Authority) continues in these misguided decisions… But if they pack and leave, it's a disgrace for us as Iraqis and for them as Americans. Their reputation will be destroyed in the world, and we will be delivered to the fanatics."

Conetta's May 2005 Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq from the Project on Defense Alternatives has not gotten enough attention in my estimation as Conetta deals with drivers of popular oppositional sentiment, variations in public opinion by region and community, coercive occupation practices, presence and behavior of foreign forces, opposition by Sunni and Shia sects, patterns of Coalition activity during and after "major" combat operations. There is thoughtful poll analysis and copious footnoting.

Opposition sentiment is driven by:

  • A typical nationalist or patriotic response to foreign control, amplified by differences of culture, religion, and language; and
  • A reaction to the coercive practices of the occupation, including military, policing, and penal operations.

Conetta's opinion is that the insurgency "is now driven substantially by the occupation, its practices, and policies" and that results of repeated polling of Iraqi attitudes have been ignored in the US "public discourse on the Iraqi mission" such that it "imperils US policy. His analysis is that:

  • On balance, Iraqis oppose the US presence in Iraq, and those who strongly oppose it greatly outnumber those who strongly support it.
  • US troops in Iraq are viewed broadly as an occupying force, not peacekeepers or liberators.
  • On balance, Iraqis do not trust US troops, think they have behaved badly, and -- one way or another -- hold them responsible for much of the violence in the nation.
  • There is significant popular support for attacks on US forces, and this support probably grew larger during the course of 2004, at least among Sunni Arabs.
  • A majority of Iraqis want coalition forces to leave within a year or less. Formation of a permanent government early in 2006 is the "tipping point" after which a very large majority of Iraqis may desire immediate withdrawal.

Part 2

Iraq Index
Tracking Variables of Reconstruction & Security in Post-Saddam Iraq
Michael E. O’Hanlon and Nina Kamp
Brookings Institution
Updated October 27, 2005
For full source information for entries other than the current month, please see the Iraq Index archives

Secret MoD poll: Iraqis support attacks on British troops
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 23/10/2005)
Telegraph (UK)

Business Leader Attitudes Toward Commercial Activity, Employee Relations, and Government in Iraq
By The Center for International Private Enterprise & Zogby International
Fall 2005

Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey
The Lancet, Volume 364, Issue 9448, Pages 1857-1864
L. Roberts, R. Lafta, R. Garfield, J. Khudhairi, G. Burnham
19 November 2004
Abstract
Related background material

Scientists: 100,000 Iraqis have died since war
AP/Reuters
October 29, 2004 - 2:24PM

Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq
Part One. Patterns of Popular Discontent
Project on Defense Alternatives Research Monograph #10
Carl Conetta
Project on Defense Alternatives
18 May 2005

Iraq: Recent Developments in Reconstruction Assistance
Curt Tarnoff
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service
CRS RL31833
Updated May 12, 2005

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
September 2004
CSIS
No longer on CSIS site but mirrored
here, here, and here

Progress Or Peril? Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction
Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker
Iraq Update, August-October 2004
CSIS
No longer on CSIS site but mirrored here

Public Opinion in Iraq: First Poll Following Abu Ghraib Revelations
Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies (IIACSS)
15 June 2004

80% of Iraqis want US to stop patrolling cities
Jonathan Steele in Baghdad
Guardian
June 29, 2004

Why Iyad Al Alawi?
Al Jazeera
6/7/2004 7:07:00 AM GMT

The Results Of the Public Opinion Poll in Iraq
The Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS)
June 2004

Iraqis Report Deepening Doubts About Legitimacy of the US-led Occupation
by Hannah Allam
Knight-Ridder
May 9, 2004
Original
has scrolled off
Google cache
here
Mirror here

Poll: Iraqis out of patience
By Cesar G. Soriano and Steven Komarow
USA TODAY
Posted 4/28/2004 3:32 PM
Updated 4/30/2004 6:54 AM

Nearly 3 Million Iraqis, Sunni and Shiite, Approve of attacks on Americans
Juan Cole
Informed Comment
April 6, 2004

Poll: Most Iraq Shia Arabs Oppose Attacks
Associated Press
Posted on Mon, Apr. 05, 2004
Original scrolled off
Google cache

Results of Public Opinion Poll #3
The Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies (ICRSS)
23 October, 2003

Iraqi Public Has Wide Future Political System
Opinion Analysis
Office of Research
Department of State
(DoS commissioned ICRSS (approved by the CPA) in Baghdad to carry out the fieldwork)
M-151-03
October 21, 2003

Gordon Housworth



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Improving COTS availability of open source mapping, imagery and GPS data

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Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) technology is a frequent topic on this weblog as it provides a great leveler that asymmetric attackers can use against larger, more established adversaries. We overlook this capacity at our peril. Some examples:

This note deals with the rising open source availability of mapping, imagery and GPS data to an asymmetric attacker.

The Register held a humorous competition to "Spot the Black Helicopter" from submitted Google Earth imagery (primarily overhead, not oblique). Imagery that was historically limited to a few nations is now increasingly available on demand, at your PC, at little or no cost. (While there is dedicated imagery available for purchase from US, Russian and European sites, it comes at a price and with potentially traceability.) Imagery that offers a general overhead view of a desired facility in concert with GPS coordinates is available for operational planning purposes. The Register pointed out naval facilities, airfields (and here), airfields and revetments, intelligence, command and chemical facilities, boomers (nuclear ballistic missile submarines) at dockside, nuclear facilities and aircraft carriers at dockside. States such as India and South Korea have protested Google Earth "on the grounds that the globetrotting online service shows sensitive military installations laid bare in a way which might benefit North Korea."

Expect targeting information to be increasingly available as Google forges more commercial sharing relations such as that proposed with commercial real estate's largest data provider, CoStar Group, who "tracks more than 200 bits of data on commercial buildings in the 80 or so biggest markets in the United States and plans to expand to the top 200 markets… sends out teams in specially equipped vans to photograph buildings and use lasers to measure them and calculate their exact centers for mapping… [and using a Google map] drill down into specific information on a given building, not just see it on a map.'' CoStar holds "tenant information [that] includes details on who they are, what they do, how much they pay in rent, when their leases expire and all the phone numbers in buildings."

Independent spin-offs such as Flash Earth use satellite images from Google Maps or MSN Virtual Earth to attempt a better, more efficient rendering of Google Maps using Flash.

The winner of DARPA's Grand Challenge for autonomous (unmanned) vehicles to navigate a 132 mile desert terrain, Stanford's Stanley, used a COTS off-road vehicle and COTS sensors and computers. (The art was in the AI software that defined the vehicle's position, told it what was ahead, and what must be the appropriate response. The majority of competitors used Trimble GPS units capable of "subfoot (30 cm) GPS accuracy" which were "often coupled with an inertial measurement unit (IMU), which can determine speed and acceleration on all axes. An IMU can provide information about the location of the vehicle if the GPS gets interrupted."

Trimble also provides this accuracy in a ruggedized handheld that provides the "subfoot (30 cm) GPS accuracy required by electric and gas utilities, water and wastewater services, land reform projects, and other applications where accurate positioning is crucial."

Also good for targeting and/or ignition of "a GPS-augmented payload that would allow terrorists to track and detonate the payload at the appropriate position" with superior accuracy.

On the less commercial side, Trimble Outdoors has components for "communications and GPS software for your GPS cell phone [and] trip planning software with maps for your PC that can be used on its own or with your handheld GPS or GPS phone." Users can now easily geocache random GPS data, both producing and downloading TopoGrafix LOC or GPS Exchange Format files, that can be input to custom topographic files. (See also Geocaching.com.). It has elements of a battlefield C3 mapping capacity:

  • Research trips posted by other members
  • Plan and create trips on your personal computer using topographical, aerial or street maps of the US
  • Download trips to your GPS receiver or GPS cell phone
  • Use your GPS cell phone for route navigation and tracking
  • Personalize your trips with pictures and notes
  • Share trips with friends and family on-line

Trimble Outdoors navigation allows users to check locations at specific points in a trip while Trimble Adventure Planner allows a user to plan trips "with all the important navigation points marked, using aerial, topographic or street maps to perfectly plan your route… Once planned, you can download your trip to your Nextel phone. With Trimble Outdoors, you have everything you need in one light-weight device: cell phone, GPS receiver with complete GPS navigation capabilities, camera, and walkie-talkie."

Trimble Outdoors posts a trip from Swamp Pt to Monument Pt, Arizona, whose trip summary had 7 routes, 70 waypoints and 2 POIs (points of interest). Trip photos can be appended which in this case provides a means to follow an exciting canyon hike, but could just as easily provide surveillance validation information (trip summary, interactive map and elevation profile).

Trimble Outdoors has samples around urban areas as well - such as Washington DC. One had 53 POIs around the greater DC area (POIs and interactive map). Another was a trip around the Washington Mall, including a visit to the White House, a tour perhaps (way points and map).

Increasingly better and affordable maps and optics technology is making heretofore distant sites such as Area 51, long a source of interest to legitimate aerospace technologist and UFO conspiracist theorist alike, increasingly, albeit teasingly, visible. While Microsoft Virtual Earth has elected to excise overhead imagery of Area 51, leaving only a grayed-out section, Google offers a useful color overhead of Area 51. This image is a hybrid, i.e., a combination of both map and satellite data, but the area is so sparse that 'map' shows only one road approaching the facility at this resolution.

Another of what I call the committed collector community has produced one of the better oblique panorama collages of Area 51:

The panorama was assembled from 16 individual photos, taken with a Canon D-60 digital camera mounted to a Celestron C-5 spotting scope on a Davis&Sanford ProVista tripod with Bogen 410 geared head. The effective focal length was 2000mm [producing] 1/4-meter resolution (4-times higher than the [1/2-meter resolution] shown here [on the website]).

The panorama was "taken in the early morning hours of August 7, 2005" presumably to minimize atmospheric distortion and have the sun behind the camera from Tikaboo Peak which is the only unclass line of site (26 miles) to the facility after the closer "White Sides" and "Freedom Ridge" observation points were reclaimed by the feds in 1995. It is worth clicking onto some of the segments (click the 'skip' in upper right on the annoying screensaver advertisements to get quickly to the image). The images are annotated which makes the accompanying historical notes of building and construction activity more useful. As we have noted elsewhere, even partial 'time sequences' of properly described events provide:

a means of pattern detection, evidence of trend growth or attenuation, changes in underlying assumptions, and the emergence of new players or vulnerabilities.

As optics at all wavelengths improve and more sources of data emerge, it becomes increasingly more difficult to shield all activities all the time. One wonders how long the military will permit access to Tikaboo. [Note that the 'Maps & GPS' section in frame left offer some useful data for Area 51 as well as general topomapping sources.]

Kalam Concerned Over Google Earth
Techtree News Staff
Oct 19, 2005

Google Earth digs deeper
MAP SERVICE IN TALKS TO INCLUDE DETAILS FROM COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DATA FIRM
By Jon Ann Steinmetz
Mercury News
Posted on Tue, Oct. 18, 2005

Robotic vehicle adapted human ways of learning
By Mike Langberg
Mercury News
Posted on Mon, Oct. 17, 2005

Google Earth: the black helicopters have landed
By Lester Haines
The Register
Published Friday 14th October 2005 15:55 GMT

Sensing their surroundings
Posted by: Wayne Cunningham
October 10, 2005, 4:12 PM PDT

MyTopo.com and Trimble Empower Outdoor Enthusiasts to Publish Custom GPS Overlay Maps
Trimble
Aug. 11, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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Multisourcing: belated recovery of forgotten first principles, part 2

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Part 1

For those of us that come from a background of a Counterterrorism (CT) and Counterintelligence (CI) threat analysis, a Governance Model that Gartner belatedly embraces is the essence of effective performance definition, and the Design Basis Threat (DBT) becomes an integral, inseparable part of that governance model as the mechanism that informs the Command or Senior management of the types of threats it may face over time and allows them to define the threats that are in or out of scope, the level of deflection or defense that will be committed to each threat, and the cost for that level of deflection or defense. The commercial side could learn much the military in essential risk management starting with Field Manual FM 100-14, Risk Management, which is the commander's principal risk reduction process to identify and control hazards and make informed decisions:

  • Identify hazards
  • Assess hazards
  • Develop controls and make risk decisions
  • Implement controls
  • Supervise and evaluate

The discriminator in DBT design is that almost all conventional DBTs are a scenario-based risk process instead of a rigorous procedural analysis that:

  • Defines risk management objectives under an integrated Command vision
  • Balances efficiency vs. security
  • Provides exportable and testable guidelines
  • Mandates periodic review under changing threats

The false complacency that scenarios instill is so great that I am compelled to beat the drum one more time:

Scenario-based responses are dangerously omissive, driving clients to extraordinary cost and diversion, often without merit, but is prevalent in part because it is simple. It requires no procedural rigor or grounding in fact, only the ability to ask "What if?" endlessly, yet is virtually ineffective for deferring, deflecting, or interdicting an adversary's preparation.

Witness the events of the July 2005 mass transit bombings in London where the UK had had a thirty-year history of dealing with a variety of terrorist attacks and bombings, the "scenario" and "lessons learned" from the earlier transit attacks in Madrid, Spain, were well-known, yet proved little benefit to the British in interdicting the London attacks of July 2005.

Scenario-spinning has no logical end and provides no threat assessment, vulnerability assessment, or risk assessment that would normally be enshrined in a firm's Governance Model.

Scenarios were an Army staple until the terrorist truck bomb attack along the northern perimeter of Khobar Towers, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on June 25, 1996. (Khobar Towers was a facility housing U.S. and allied forces supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, coalition air operations over Iraq.) The report by Wayne A. Downing, General, U.S. Army (Retired) which has become known as the Downing Report (Introductory Letter, Preface and Report), reinvigorated the uphill effort to substitute procedurally consistent threat and vulnerability analyses in place of scenario generation.

Without guiding bounds, scenarios proliferate endlessly, often crippling most well-intended, protective efforts (paralysis by analysis). Defenders must define a coherent view of their risk tolerance before they can craft a response strategy that can reasonably and consistently respond to the threats on offer.

Risk Management
FM 100-14
Field Manual Headquarters
No. 100- 14 Department of the Army
Washington, DC, 23 April 1998

Report to the President and Congress on the Protection of U.S. Forces Deployed Abroad
ANNEX A - The Downing Investigation Report
Downing Assessment Task Force
NMCC Room 2C890, The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310
August 30, 1996
Annex A consists of following three documents:
The Introductory Letter - A two page letter from Downing.
The Preface
The Report - 68 pages of text and tables.

Gordon Housworth



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Multisourcing: belated recovery of forgotten first principles

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Having long held that "insultants" outnumber consultants, and mindful that certain consultancies prey upon the short attention spans of their clients even as certain clients use their consultant's opinions as 'security blanket' surrogates for omissive decision making, I am displeased that the consulting community has ridden the outsourcing pony for years and only now is actively turning on the outsourcing concept as its political and structural impacts are becoming increasingly obvious. In point of fact, the consulting community is beginning to issue a new prescription for a disease which they themselves helped to construct.

I would like to offer a realistic assessment of why and how firms outsource. Firms almost universally devolve the problem to a divisional or unit level, thus the means, omissions and results that are achieved will vary on a case-by-case basis. The upshot is that the same problem is solved in differing ways, as a colleague said, "to avoid some organizational consequence" such as cost savings, headcount reductions (which can be to protect existing staff or to get credit for any reduction), functionality (that is missing, failing or inconvenient), or at the personal level, a positive annual personnel rating (which may be measured against suboptimizing criteria). What is missing is a decision making framework that integrates global and national aspects of need, technology, business considerations, risks, scope, duration, cost implications and ultimately solutions (there is always more than one solution, depending upon the desired outcomes and the bounds of monies, mindshare, and timing available).

I am displeased that Gartner's Linda Cohen is now leading the charge to "stop outsourcing now" and is conveniently substituting 'multisourcing' in its place, which is nothing more than a return to first principles, to what outsourcing should have been in first instance.

Only now does Gartner say that "Most organizations are utilizing ad hoc approaches to outsourcing that are both short-sighted and ineffective. Successful outsourcing requires a new operational model - multisourcing - that seamlessly blends internally and externally delivered services, not just to cut costs or gain efficiencies, but to maximize growth, agility and bottom-line results."

Yes, Gartner has been honing this multisourcing idea for a while.  Gartner was flagging multisourcing in early 2003 even as it noted that "IT outsourcing has been a rare bright spot in a gloomy technology spending climate." By late 2004, Gartner was finally noting that industry needed a sourcing strategy that assesses a firm's "cultural, financial, contractual and statutory factors [so as to] be capable of fulfilling business objectives for the long term"... that "multi-sourcing is the "new normal"; senior executive involvement is gained and retained; and governance is regarded as a core competency." By mid 2005, they were noting that firms needed to "replace or retrain the executives responsible for managing outsourcing."

One has to ask, where were they back then, over the past decade, and did they, in effect, train those they now recommend for redundancy? Sun's Scott McNealy was already using multisourcing by Aug 2002.

"Outsourcing" should have been 'multisourcing" from the onset. Gartner is calling multisourcing a "new terrain" for outsourcing, but I agree with Farber that it is "more accurately a rational, common sense terrain" and one that should have been pressed years earlier. Gartner's eight "pervasive myths" and eight "outsourcing maladies" were predictable at the dawn of outsourcing.

Worse, neither Gartner or Forrester address the implications of essential information security and Intellectual Property (IP) security components both here and abroad. Protection of IP on the "sell side" of manufacturing must be matched on the "buy side" of consulting and outsourcing services. Rules applicable to outsourcing apply equally to manufacturing and the manufacturing supply chain, yet they are handled in isolation thereby creating more opportunities for corporate inefficiency and hemorrhage of IP. See Outsourcing obscured by distortion and fog.

Sidebar:

There are small ways to venture outside accepted norms in estimating outsourcing impacts and designing new work rule streamlining. We recommended that Northwest Airlines' streamlining of work rules (job redesign) and outsourcing was applicable to the business continuity interests of clients in other sectors with regards to their core labor unions in both outsourcing and manufacturing operations. We recommended that they put Northwest on their watch list for continuous examination so as to produce an AAR (After Action Report) for lessons learned by Northwest (NWA) and their applicability to each client's condition, i.e., assemble a cross-functional 'war room' to track and model Northwest actions against the client's situation, in effect gaming the NWA effort internally.

[History: I remember the 1998 UAW strike (here and here) against General Motors who then secretly trucked out stamping dies out of Flint, MI, to Mansfield, OH, to preserve production of profitable truck and SUV models, the resulting labor storm and production interruption that closed 27 of GM's 29 assembly plants and laid off some 200,000 of its work force, cost GM $2.2 billion, and then GM effectively folding after 53 days without gain. Remembering that GM's approach seemed mad, I thought that a Northwest approach is a workable means to plan-in-advance for a restructuring and use the inevitable strike as an opportunity to readjust without significant business interruption. (It has long been my opinion that the relatively buoyant automotive labor market was an anomaly due to pent-up demand after WW II and was (is) unsustainable, no matter what labor management wants for its aging members. Yes, management and engineering are going to have to design better, more desirable product, but labor must cooperatively work to produce it at most efficient cost. Yes, union membership might not/would not grow as much but I think that there would be more continuity and stability for those at work. Your mileage may vary.)]

Part 2

Gartner: Stop outsourcing now
Posted by Dan Farber @ 10:03 am
October 17, 2005

Gartner: Outsourcing managers must be retrained
Or given the chop...
By Simon Sharwood
Silicon.com
Published: Tuesday 7 June 2005

GARTNER: OUTSOURCING NEEDS STRONG RX
By Linda Tucci
CIO
04.05.2005

Well-Laid Plan Kept Northwest Flying in Strike
By MICHELINE MAYNARD
New York Times
August 22, 2005

Do it right, or not at all
By Maggie Macrae
CFO (Australia)
01 September 2004

GARTNER: OUTSOURCING DEALS WILL GO ON A DIET
By Barney Beal
CIO
02.26.2004

Gartner: IT outsourcing will disappoint
By Ed Frauenheim
CNET News.com
Published: March 25, 2003

Gordon Housworth



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Political denial and spinning as a direct application of distortion and fog

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Part 3

Open source analysis is problematic when media distortions comissively misinform, and underreporting omissively starve, the public record. While Media distortion and the underpinnings of 'Wag the Dog' and 'Fog facts' in both media and print were written from the context of skewed or deficient reporting that blunts open source analysis, the political dimension is undeniable. I had politics in mind when deciding to cite Beinhart's politics in 'Fog facts' with the intent to defuse partisan dismissal by recognizing that his politics may inform the examples that he puts forward but that his central message should not be dismissed.

Events that sadly typify the themes of these notes emerged as they were being written, one much more reported than the other but both of significance. Concluding with the most reported event that had wide administration hallmarks of pre- and post-spin manipulation:

Political denial and spinning as a direct application of distortion and fog

As chance would have it, I happened to be watching the video feed of Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Internal Communications, Allison Barber, stepping a handpicked group of nine US soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division on duty in Tikrit, plus one Iraqi (who in my estimation had to be handpicked as he spoke in English and later told Bush43 that, "Thank you very much for everything. I like you."). I then watched the president proceed through his questioning with this group. It is one thing to read after the fact, but quite another to hear both the inadvertently released Barber feed and the White House official feed. To this analyst, the pair constituted blatant coaching that elicited answers that unfortunately do not come at all close to the reality of the Iraqi situation on the ground as commented upon in this weblog and other sources.

In my professional opinion, it was a flight from reality, and that is charitable even after reading the blog entry of the combat medic, Sgt Ron Long, "Speaking with President Bush." I have no doubt that Sgt Long believes what he wrote, and I empathize with his feeling of being in harm's way with little public support, but he and I depart on comments such as this (bold face and caps are his):

I know that we are fighting here, not only to preserve our own freedoms, but to establish those same freedoms for the people of Iraq. It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless! The question I was most asked while I was home on leave in June was, "So...What's REALLY going on over there?" Does that not tell you something?! Who has confidence in the media to tell the WHOLE STORY? It's like they WANT this to turn into another Vietnam. I hate to break it to them, but it's not.

Were I seeking a sympathetic audience, I would certainly choose dedicated individuals such as this, but I am bothered that as these soldiers are being queued for upbeat messages, the administration is backing away from its 2+ year mantra that:

as democracy took hold in Iraq, the insurgency would lose steam because Al Qaeda and the opponents of the country's interim government had nothing to offer Iraqis or the people of the Middle East

And has replaced it with presidential comments that warn that:

that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia [and while predicting victory] appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions."

In step with that are "administration officials" that are "beginning to describe the insurgency as long-lasting, more akin to Communist insurgencies in Malaysia or the Philippines, but with a broader and more deadly base." Where now are the platitudes of an easy Iraqi parallel to the Japan and Germany of WW II? Certainly not with former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage,

Those who argued at the time that the acceptance of democracy in Iraq would be easy, and who drew on our experience with Japan and Germany, were wrong… Germany and Japan were homogeneous societies. Iraq is not. Japan and Germany were also highly developed industrialised economies. Iraq is not.

in the case of both Germany and Japan there were memories of democracy; flawed, to be sure, but people were at least familiar with the inner workings and mechanisms. And most important of all, both Japan and Germany had extremely competent and professional bureaucracies [and] they did it in a way that meant it was not a function of cronyism and corruption, as it was in Iraq.

in both Germany and Japan's case there were people who suffered during the war and who stayed in the country. They experienced the horror and were victims themselves and afterwards were prepared to take up the cudgels on behalf of democracy. In Iraq, the political class [were] part of the diaspora.

In Germany and Japan, the population was exhausted and deeply shocked by what had happened [but] the US is dealing with an Iraqi population that is un-shocked and un-awed".

Your mileage may vary, but I did not accept either the comments of Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita, "The soldiers were advised as to the issues they should expect to discuss, and decided among themselves who would speak to each issue as it may arise," of White House spokesman Scott McClellan, "I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect," or the DoD press announcement that "service members were excited about the opportunity to speak with the President. No one intended to tell them what to think or how to express themselves; going through likely questions in advance was meant solely to help the troops feel at ease during an obviously unique experience."

I very much agreed with the "senior Pentagon officials told FOX News that they are angry that soldiers were coached at all before the video conference went live" and the "senior military commander told FOX News that he's outraged by the way the young soldiers were coached."

Given the unscripted responses that US troops have offered senior commanders, I can see an administration wishing to have a more telegenic experience, but Barber's 45-minute practice run of the teleconference "tells the story of soldiers who were being 'scripted' and given answers that had been [in Barber's own words] 'drilled through'" and then attempted to pass it off as contemporaneous remarks.

In closing, it is difficult not to comment on the recurring administration effort to erase Bush43 comments as to religious motives, even direct guidance, of key presidential actions. As I am accepting of any religion that does not hold my death as one of its tenets, I do not place judgment on what an individual does or does not believe if it differs from my own views but I do find it interesting that Bush43 consistently "confuses groups as diverse as the Palestinians and the Amish" as to the religiously inspired motives for actions that affect the nation.

Comments of first party participants on these stark religious drivers are consistently spun off into the fog.

Administration's Tone Signals a Longer, Broader Iraq Conflict
By DAVID E. SANGER
New York Times
October 17, 2005

George W. Bush and the G-Word
By Al Kamen
Washington Post
October 14, 2005

Pentagon Denies Talk With Troops Was Staged
Fox News
Friday, October 14, 2005

Bush has a rehearsed tele-conference with US troops in Iraq
Wikinews
October 14, 2005

Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged
President Bush Teleconference With U.S. Troops Was Choreographed to Match His Goals for Iraq War
By DEB RIECHMANN
The Associated Press
Oct 14, 2005

President Addresses U.S. Troops in Iraq in Video Teleconference
White House
October 13, 2005, 9:54 A.M. EDT

Cut & paste: If only Richard Armitage said this before the Iraq war
Maxine McKew interview with Rich Armitage
The Australian
October 07, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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Outsourcing obscured by distortion and fog

  #

Part 2

Open source analysis is problematic when media distortions comissively misinform, and underreporting omissively starve, the public record. While Media distortion and the underpinnings of 'Wag the Dog' and 'Fog facts' in both media and print were written from the context of skewed or deficient reporting that blunts open source analysis, the political dimension is undeniable. I had politics in mind when deciding to cite Beinhart's politics in 'Fog facts' with the intent to defuse partisan dismissal by recognizing that his politics may inform the examples that he puts forward but that his central message should not be dismissed.

Events that sadly typify the themes of these notes emerged as they were being written, one much more reported than the other but both of significance. Starting with the underreported but monumentally important:

Outsourcing obscured by distortion and fog

Manufacturing & Technology News (MTN) reported that its FOIA request for a Commerce Department report on IT service-sector and high-tech outsourcing produced a bland, short document, Six-Month Assessment of Workforce Globalization In Certain Knowledge-Based Industries,  that "has not been posted on the [Commerce] Technology Administration's Web site and is not available to the public." The copy that Business Week obtained (which appears identical to the MTN copy in comparison of each cited quotation) has no header or footer information, and none of the usual description and document identification of a released federal paper.

Mercury News, in the heart of the US venture capital sector, described it as "pollyana-ish" document "that does little more than parrot earlier reports by business groups" concluding "that outsourcing is nothing but good for the U.S. economy… this kind of report does a great disservice to the American public and ultimately to the cause of free trade."

MTN states that the FOIA document carried a July 2004 date but was "completed well before the November 2004 presidential election but was delayed for clearance [due to its being a "contentious campaign issue, particularly in the swing states"] by the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress due to the controversial nature of the subject." Furthermore, this report bears no resemblance to the original report produced by Technology Administration analysts that addressed such issues as Indian outsourcing growth, outsourcing strategies adopted by IBM, HP, Microsoft and Google, which IT jobs will go and which will stay, and that "knowledge work can move offshore more quickly and cheaply than manufacturing." In contrast, the released report said that federal data "can offer only very limited insight into the extent and impact of workforce globalization," and that "it was not possible to determine whether the shift of U.S. work to non-U.S. locations resulted in jobs losses for U.S. workers."

This is a grim and misleading report both omissive and comissive, if it MTN's assertions are correct that it was "crafted by political appointees at Commerce and at the White House." Outsourcing is a major US strategic issue that has been left to private hands and is one that this list has often addressed:

Worse still, the US is lacking a cohesive national outsourcing response and in this case, lags far behind the UK where Tony Blair's anointed successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, has outlined a strategy using government assistance to transform the manufacturing sector instead of "abandoning… or surrounding it with protectionist barriers." Offshoring is also a European concern as the European Union recognizes that European industrial jobs are under threat from emerging economies and that the "assumption that Europe could offset its loss of traditional manufacturing jobs by retaining a lead in knowledge-based industries and exporting higher-value goods to emerging economies" is unwarranted.

In the face of such a challenge to our manufacturing and technology, it is unconscionable that at the federal level the US sweeps the matter under the rug.

Part 4, political staging and manipulation

We can't hide from downside of offshoring jobs
Mercury News Editorial
Posted on Thu, Oct. 13, 2005

China is targeting hi-tech jobs, EU warns
David Gow in Brussels
The Guardian
October 13, 2005

Political Appointees Re-Write Commerce Department Report On Offshore Outsourcing; Original Analysis Is Missing From Final Version
Manufacturing & Technology News
BY RICHARD McCORMACK
October 12, 2005, Volume 12, No. 18

Six-Month Assessment of Workforce Globalization In Certain Knowledge-Based Industries
Technology Administration (US)
July 2004
Note: This copy has no header or footer information, none of the usual description and document identification of a released federal paper

U.K. Leads; U.S. Lags
KENAN PATRICK JARBOE
GUEST EDITORIAL
Manufacturing & Technology News
July 8, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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'Fog facts' in both media and print

  #

Part 1

Although TV and, by extension, every media device that carries its content, deserves to be called out for its distortions that misinform public discourse, both TV/media and print deserve reproach for what they do not address and so starve public discourse of content that it would find actionable.

Larry Beinhart calls this overlooked class of information "fog facts":

Fog facts are things that have been reported, somewhere, sometime, but have disappeared into the mist—like the pre-9/11 hints that there were hijackers in our midst. The fog facts can still be found by enterprising reporters, but with time and news space increasingly crunched—and media priorities shifting to the trivial—they usually remain obscure, at least to the general public.

Beinhart should know as he has made a practice of employing fog facts as a central mechanism in his novels, American Hero [great snippets here] which was the basis for the film Wag the Dogand The Librarian, and now the nonfiction Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin.

Fog Facts is about "the fog surrounding the small kernels of truth. There is so much fog, the truth disappears." Beinhart believes that "the media are manipulated by a new breed of super-smart spin doctors who are exploiting the fact that the media try to report facts objectively" and that this spin which protects US politicians from damage "has seeped into every level of politics" thereby hastening Baudrillard's new reality.

Beinhart is also cynical about politics and politicians of all shades although I would position him as more liberal than conservative, especially as he cites this as the cusp of his lapse into cynicism:

[After enduring privation as an aspiring movie producer, Beinhart was tempted by] "a right-wing Republican condominium developer. Would Beinhart and his company mind producing a series of ads that had an explicit anti-gay message? Beinhart bristled - his first instinct was "of course not"- but [privation being what it was] he accepted the offer but subverted it by hiring only gay actors and a gay production crew. "I wasn't sure if it was a cynical move on my behalf or hysterical," he says.

Beinhart's politics may inform the examples that he highlights but they do not dilute his message. His 'fog facts' on Senator Bill Frist and VP Cheney should have long ago received more scrutiny. Beinhart takes journalists to task for treating non-political and political news differently. Holding up the Lake George drownings against Frist's financials, he says that:

[In] the Lake George stories, details, background and context were as natural as using a headline and a lead paragraph, yet the breaking Frist story was written as if the events occurred in ghostly isolation, disconnected from others like them, from society, and from humanity in general. [Lake George] has a certain neutrality about it. It’s real news (it’s not political scandal). So reporters and editors fearlessly get it all for us. They do not just report the events, they pull all the relevant facts (laws, history, similar events, speculations, social impact) out of the thousands of bits of information floating around-- out of the fog.

The other story is also news. In terms of what will or will not happen to us in the future, it is significantly more important. All the bits and pieces that I’ve tossed in here can be found, without too much effort. Yet, they're not there. They're still lost in the fog. If I said that that it is because it involves a very powerful man backed by a very powerful political party with lots of supporters who attack the press when they feel their leaders are attacked, most reporters and editors would say no, they would never make a decision to report based on fear or favor. Yet virtually everyone handled the story the same way.

Fog remains underreported as the circumstances have become institutionalized. It is far easier to focus on "sordid, salacious facts about celebrities" or events that do not threaten journalists and their employers instead of the critical issues of the day.

This writer sees a bit of fog in the New York Times' handling of its reporter, Judith Miller, given that the Times seems to be perpetually scooped by other journalists. In a case that could possibly indict senior administration officials, the Times has been mute to the point that the editor of Editor & Publisher, Greg Mitchell, has to ask:

And while we're at it: Why have the Times' seven hard-hitting weekday opinion columnists remained virtually silent, pro or con, on their colleague Judith Miller throughout this ordeal? Conflicted? Afraid to appear disloyal? Or discouraged from commenting?

Part 3

SEC Issues Subpoena To Frist, Sources Say
Records Sought On Sale of Stock
By Carrie Johnson and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post
October 13, 2005

'N.Y. Times' Scooped Again, This Time on Miller's Notes
By E&P Staff
Editor & Publisher
October 08, 2005 10:35 AM ET updated 11:00 PM

The Case of the Missing Notebook
By Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher
October 09, 2005 12:40 PM ET

Reporters: Lost in the 'Fog'?
By Larry Beinhart
Editor & Publisher
October 06, 2005

Clearing away the fog of spin
Sydney Morning Herald
September 8, 2005

Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
By Larry Beinhart
Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2005
ISBN:1560257679

Fog Facts : Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
Table of contents

Gordon Housworth



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Media distortion and the underpinnings of 'Wag the Dog'

  #

Wag the Dog was close to mind when I said:

I am saddened as I look to news from whatever source to be genuinely informative rather than masquerading entertainment or willful misinformation. TV is driving the discourse as it starves the viewer for content and context

Wag the Dog's title rises from the question, "Why does a dog wag its tail?" to which the answer is that the dog is smarter than its tail, .e.g. were the tail smarter then it would wag the dog. While interpretations of dog and tail vary, the constant is that the more significant item is driven by the lesser:

  • Public opinion as dog and media as tail
  • Media as dog and political campaigns as tail
  • People as dog and government as tail

Much of the legitimate concern over an omnipresent, distorting media rose with the work of the postmodern social theorist, Jean Baudrillard, yet Baudrillard is tough reading as Doug Mann notes:

Baudrillard's writing is difficult, and for starting philosophers and social and cultural theorists is best taken in small doses. If you read his work, remember that his central claim about postmodern culture (thought he claims that he himself is not a postmodernist) is quite simple - that we live in a "desert of the real," a cultural space where television, film, and computer images are more "real" to us than the non-media physical reality that surrounds us. This loss of reality isn't so hard to understand, even if it's difficult for some of us to swallow.

Another researcher distilled it as, "Baudrillard assigns to media the status of producing images which in turn produce reality. There is no terrain of reality outside of the media image." With that slim lifeline, we proceed with the concept of the impact of a copy of a copy.

Simulacra, plural of simulacrum, were originally material objects representing something, even an abstraction, as an idol represents a spirit or deity. By the 19th century, the word took on more of an "empty form devoid of spirit." Influenced by Marshall McLuhan, Baudrillard pushed it to its current usage of "a copy of a copy which has been so dissipated in its relation to the original that it can no longer be said to be a copy [i.e., that it] stands on its own as a copy without a model."

Fans of The Matrix will get this right off, but I like the Betty Boop analogy better, i.e., Annette Hanshaw was imitated by Helen Kane upon whom Betty Boop cartoon character was based. Today, only Boop remains in the public eye.

Simulacra is folded into Baudrillard's hyperreality which he described as, "The simulation of something which never really existed" while Umberto Eco was more direct with the "authentic fake." (See Baudrillard's The Ecstasy of Communication.) Your mileage may vary but Las Vegas is hyperreal in that nothing is authentic, copies are everywhere, the experience is a dreamscape in which the visitor and presenter play along. (Personally, I dislike Vegas no matter how many good restaurants it has assembled, but then I like to read sound print.)

By 1987, in The Evil Demon of Images, Baudrillard made a distinction between cinema and TV, that while cinema was perceived as myth or imaginary that TV was "no longer an image" but a new reality (and remember that Baudrillard is tough reading):

Above all, it is the reference principle of images which must be doubted, this strategy by means of which they always appear to refer to a real world, to real objects, and to reproduce something which is logically and chronologically anterior to themselves. None of this is true. As simulacra, images precede the real to the extent that they invert the causal and logical order of the real and its reproduction

[The truly determined can look to Trifonova's study of postmodern culture and hyperreality that puts Baudrillard and the postmodern movement in perspective and handles the complex subject with much greater clarity.]

just give the public the cover, so they feel they know what is happening outside their own small lives. And make it glossy and interesting -- that will keep them all interested and ultimately satisfied.

Wag the Dog mirrors Baudrillard in its showing "how mesmerising and seductive the image is. The images we see in the cinema, on CNN, and in our daily lives are reality in as much as they are what people sense, interpret, and trust." The "diva of disinformation" salvage operation character, Conrad Brean, sighs and says "The war is over, I saw it on TV."

Part 2, Fog facts in both media and print

Jean Baudrillard: A Very Short Introduction
by Doug Mann

Is There a Subject in Hyperreality?
Temenuga Trifonova
University of California, San Diego
2003

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The US paid much to gain little in opposing ElBaradei; it will pay more if it continues to reproach the Nobel laureate

  #

I've some difficulty in believing that the joint award of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize to Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had no political dimension, and that the award was not a second slap (Jimmy Carter's 2002 prize being the first) at what Hans Blix described today as US "unilateralist action." I am even more sad that administration displeasure over ElBaradei's refusal to support US charges of Iraqi WMD development and a perceived too soft approach on Iran were two of many drivers for that slap. Whatever the drivers were, it is clear that as the US star set, ElBaradei's rose, especially in the Muslim world (and if you know ElBaradei's background he is decidedly not anti-American).

By early January 2005 the US had sought support among the IAEA's Board of Governors for a vote of no-confidence in ElBaradei, even though he faced no opposition for re-election to a third term. Interestingly, the US expected the support from allies including Canada and Australia "along with possible backing from former Soviet bloc nations." Within the month the US was isolated, having to failed to convince any of the 15 countries it approached, rebuffed by the UK, Canada, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Pakistan and South Africa.

The US approach that it was "motivated solely by a desire to see U.N. executives adopt a two-term limit" fell on deaf ears as "most allies… viewed the campaign as retaliation against someone who questioned U.S. intelligence on Iraq [and] Iran." The fact that the US reviewed "intercepts of ElBaradei's phone calls in hopes of finding material to use against him," "orchestrated leaks" that ElBaradei was attempting to hide an Iranian covert weapons program and an Iranian purchase of large quantities of beryllium (which acts as reflector during the early stages of a nuclear detonation) did not endear the US. I found it interesting that only states targeted by IAEA investigations (Pakistan, South Korea and Brazil) were in favor of replacing ElBaradei.

This is all the more distressing in that the US paid much to gain little, especially as:

Privately, Bush administration officials acknowledge that the IAEA's Iran investigation, now in its third year, has been thorough and that the agency has uncovered far more than U.S. intelligence could have learned without it.

I note one negative blog that dismissed the Nobel Committee outright as "some Norwegian association" and felt that naming ElBaradei in the company of "previous winners including Woodrow Wilson, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa" was evidence that "Apparently You Can Get An 'A' For Effort." The blog took further pride in noting Yasser Arafat was not mentioned as a winner, as if there was an attempt to hide a bad decision. [It is worth an aside on the choice of Arafat as few saw through his brilliant self image campaign that conned many in Europe and the Middle East. One, Edward Said, was virtually exiled from Palestinian circles in 1997 by referring to Arafat as "our Papa Doc." It was only until Samuels produced his superb In a Ruined Country that many could see the magnitude of the disaster that Arafat bequeathed to the region.]

Sometimes an 'A for effort' is all that one can hope for. I have had my own limited experience with the IAEA's difficulty in gaining agreement on a contentious subject. But first, readers need to know how difficult it is to move the IAEA.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is, for better or worse, a UN agency established in 1957 as a global "Atoms for Peace" for nuclear cooperation in three fields: safety and security, safeguards and verification, and science and technology. Mohamed ElBaradei is the IAEA's Director General, much like Kofi Annan is Secretary General of the UN, and presides over 138 Member States as of November 2004. An annual General Conference elects a Board of Governors composed of 35 member states that meet in Vienna five times a year.

I am astonished that it achieves as much as it does, and in a private note in 2001 said:

I have watched the IAEA long enough to draw an impression shared by others that the IAEA has been soft on proliferation enforcement, but to retain balance, that position might be a necessary function of a body such as IAEA maintaining access to the facilities it seeks to inspect. The IAEA has a hard job, I think, as many of the owners of the sites it seeks to inspect have a vested interest in it not investigating all the actions of those facilities.

Back to my own experience. The IAEA was holding a four day session, Symposium on International Safeguards: Verification and Nuclear Material Security, 29 Oct-1 Nov, 2001, and added an impromptu fifth day, 2 Nov, for COMBATING NUCLEAR TERRORISM. The lead speaker on the added day was Jerrold Post, formerly the founder and director of CIA's Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior. Post's presentation caused an uproar because he was impolitic in naming specific IAEA member states. Post's paper was suppressed, in part for those named states, and the fact that, as an attendee told me, such stonewalling was common for certain Arab member states to object to anything that they considered slander.  And this was a session that was not going to take any action as its 'resolutions' statement was "No resolutions may be submitted for consideration on any subject, no votes will be taken."

I am told that Post's briefing was "chilling" and the unofficial, unreleased copy that I received was indeed rather heady stuff for 2001. The closest public text to that unreleased copy that I have is here and a similar cleaned up version without the charts is here. (Readers can purchase a glossy copy from Peace & Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, September 2002, v. 8, no. 3, p. 187-200. Note that Post also produced a Response to various comments about his article in that same issue on p. 223-227.

[As an aside, I recommend Know Thy Enemy: Profiles of Adversary Leaders and Their Strategic Cultures edited by Schneider and Post. See Post's Precise Assessments of Rivals Vital in Asymmetric War Threat Environment, chapter 11.]

Treating with the IAEA is a miniature of treating with the UN, yet its issues of verification, security and safeguards are some of the most contentious of national interests regardless of whether you are in possession or not. I submit that the US urgently needs to blend conciliation and diplomacy with resolve where it is merited and alter its interaction with the IAEA and the UN as when we do get our way we leave droves of unnecessary enemies in our wake.

ElBaradei welcomes Nobel 'boost'
BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK

Profile: Mohamed ElBaradei
BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK

ElBaradei, IAEA Share Nobel Peace Prize
By Fred Barbash and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
October 7, 2005; 10:28 AM

U.S. Alone in Seeking Ouster
15 Countries Rebuff Effort to Unseat Head of Nuclear Agency
By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post
January 22, 2005

U.S. Seeking No-Confidence Vote on ElBaradei
Global Security Newswire
January 10, 2005

Know Thy Enemy: Profiles of Adversary Leaders and Their Strategic Cultures
Barry R. Schneider, Jerrold M. Post, Editors
July 2003
(Second edition)

Differentiating the Threat of Chemical/Biological Terrorism: Motivations and Constraints
Testimony before the Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
October 12, 2001
Jerrold M. Post, M.D.
The Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University

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Why does it take a comedian to position video and print news media?

  #

Jon Stewart is a gifted comedian but I would hope that he would not think me unkind when I say that he has transcended comedy and has become a gifted editorialist and essayist. And he does in two places, the first being what I call his 'expected' venue - on-screen in a TV environment, and the second in what I call the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' venue in which various hosts presume that he will bring comedy when in fact he can deliver a withering analysis that lays the matter bare.

Stewart recently did it again at the "Inside the Covers" panel series held by the Magazine Publishers Association.

In debating Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter on the issue of how advertisers and media buyers divide their revenues between what I call 'screens' (TV, internet, image device - anything other than print media) and print, Stewart said:

"The way news is driven today is not through print. I don't consider print media as relevant."

Carter countered that "television news consistently siphons what first appears in print" to which Stewart replied:

"I didn't say you weren't important; I said you're at the children's table."

Stewart drove home the 'immediacy of television' citing his stealth interview that dismembered Tucker Carlson on CNN's Crossfire:

"I wouldn't have walked into a newspaper or magazine (office) and gotten angry, because they're not the ones driving the discourse."

Stewart was equally piercing in his analysis of the web:

"(The internet) is just a delivery system. You can get really, really great insight, and really disturbing Asian porn."

It is startling to see the magnitude of "media ecosystem in which US nationals are immersed," an environment that Paul Saffo calls a "Cambrian explosion" of TV, radio, Web, PDAs, MP3 players, cellphones, video games, embedded devices in addition to print sources. The recent Middletown Media Studies by the Center for Media Design detail our enormous personal and professional media consumption, noting that "of the time spent using media, nearly one-third was spent consuming two or more forms at once, such as watching TV and surfing the Internet, or listening to music while playing a video game":

About 30 percent of their waking hours were found to be spent using media exclusively, while another 39 percent involved using media while also doing another activity, such as watching TV while preparing food or listening to the radio while at work. Altogether, more than two-thirds of people's waking moments involved some kind of media usage.

See The Media Day, Concurrent Media Exposure, and their collection process, the Observational Method. The presence of TV was impressive: TV and the Web, TV and email, TV and phone, TV and software, etc. TV survived the Web, as cinema survived TV, but the two forms are beginning to merge as streaming video from TV and other sources makes its way onto the internet. Print just takes a smaller slice, despite efforts by the newsprint media to show that their reach extends beyond 'copies sold.'

Returning to Stewart and his commentary, I am saddened as I look to news from whatever source to be genuinely informative rather than masquerading entertainment or willful misinformation. TV is driving the discourse as it starves the viewer for content and context. Stewart's Daily Show first passed through this weblog in October, 2004:

Stewart earned my undying respect when he passed from comedy and parody to scathing commentary during his Trojan Horse interview on CNN Crossfire (transcript here). I share with my younger generation Stewart's comment that, "We feel a frustration with the way politics are handled and the way politics are handled within the media."... 

In an environment where I now find even the interviews of Tim Russert to fail to press the point, where Fox is beyond the pale, where CNN has lost its way, where broadcast anchors admit to self-censorship in an effort to avoid commercial attack, where the only TV news that I seek out is PBS (Lehrer, Moyers, Frontline et al), I will continue to rely on primary source materials -- the stuff from which the high street press is crafted, and a broad spectrum of offshore sources to form my opinions.

And the Daily Show.

It was in that same note that I lamented my forced return to TV news:

The descent of mainstream news (cable and broadcast) has been so great that after years of largely ignoring it, I have had to return to it in order to understand our clients' state of misinformation, i.e., the degree of misinformation dictates the amount of added detail that we will have to include in our analyses in order to refute the bad before we can present the good.

Press on, Mr. Stewart, as too many others are still content with TV.

Stewart Skewers Consumer Magazine Editors, Industry at MPA Panel
By DYLAN STABLEFORD
Folio
September 29, 2005

We swim in an ocean of media
By Gregory M. Lamb
Christian Science Monitor
from the September 28, 2005 edition

NAA's New 'NADbase' Exposes True Reach of Newspapers
By Jennifer Saba
Editor & Publisher
Published: October 02, 2005 10:30 PM ET

Gordon Housworth



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