From an old, old draft I’d started here is Eblen Moglen is giving a talk at Google and he mentions, as almost an aside, the implications of free and open source methodologies for national security, and it’s not a random or an insignificant point. (This point is made near the end of the show…but it’s a good show anyway.)
What does he mean? Is he crazy? No, he understands some essential processes. And now I’ve got two links that explain this further, so I don’t have to finish the post I’d started. The benefits of procrastination!
Look at John Robb noting the potential irrelevance of the present day National Security Complex:
The US national security budget is nearly $700 billion a year (much more if the total costs of Iraq/Afghanistan are thrown in), more than the rest of the world combined. Unfortunately, within that entire budget there isn’t a single research organization or think tank that is seriously studying, analyzing or synthesizing the future of warfare and terrorism. Fatally, most of the big thinkers working on the future of warfare do their critical work in their spare time, usually while working other jobs to put food on the table for their families. In sum, this deficit in imagination will soon be the critical determinant on whether the national security bureaucracy remains relevant in a rapidly changing global security environment. That relevance is the key to its future.
And we all should remember: “Imagination is more important than Intelligence.” -Albert Einstein. John Robb goes on:
Here’s why. The need for relevancy became apparent on 9/11, when a small group of attackers hit the US without regard, or even a passing thought, to the trillions the US had previously invested in national security. The public’s response, this first time, was to pour more trillions to correct that failure. When another unanticipated situation occurs again (and it will, likely in a increasingly rapid succession as small group warfare climbs an exponential ramp of productivity improvements), the public will not be as generous as they were the first time to a legacy organization that can’t/won’t do the job we pay it for. In fact, the public’s displeasure will likely be expressed in a series of major defunding events for the national security bureaucracy. Here’s the process that will cause it:
And then he gives several reasons, but the one that really interests me is:
Competition from below. New, grass roots efforts at the state and local levels will compete favorably against national programs. As in: if the federal bureaucracy can’t protect us, we will do the job ourselves locally (New York City has already paved that pathway with its own counter-terrorism center). Expect a fight between local and federal, a fight where the local wins.
because I had already covered this here from April 2007: The Undefended Country, noting NYC’s efforts in Bio-surveillance.
An interesting development therefore is this wiki:
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) is drafting a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) about the implications of infectious and chronic disease on United States (US) national interests, and has accepted this contribution from a graduate class of 26 student analysts in Strategic Intelligence at Mercyhurst College. The articles and discussion on this wiki will be considered as contributions for the update of the January 2000 NIE, “The Global Infectious Disease Threat And Its Implications For The United States.”
- KEY ESTIMATIVE QUESTION: What are the most important and most likely impacts on, and threats to, US national interests (including but not limited to political, military, economic and social interests) resulting from infectious and chronic human disease originating outside the US over the next 10-15 years?
(See the Terms Of Reference for additional details, including the secondary questions and early thoughts on how the INSIGHT Team approached this topic)
However, reading through this wiki, I wasn’t very impressed, and think it didn’t really produce the out of the box thinking that it needs to or that it could have. I have just studied it briefly, and hope to find more as I sift through it. I suspect that those who were part of the study were part of the same culture of knowledge and therefore the essential cross disciplinary thinking was not there. Or in Col Boyd’s way of thinking their ‘moral connectivity’ decreased as the study progressed.
Here’s a thought: how about a wiki with cash payouts for good ideas and posts on national security? It wouldn’t take more than a half of a half of a percent of that $700 billion dollar budget John Robb mentioned in his post to produce a cohesive network of posters, certainly more than five, right? An instant think tank, self-organizing.