Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day two of the Camden Conference

Nicholas Burns talked about the following things:
The 4 categories of power:
1) Political Power
2) Military Power
3) Smart Power, also known as soft power.
(our ideals and values are the major components of soft power)
4) Economic Power.
-This one is the most important of the four powers. The state of the US economy is currently a drag on our economic power

Governor Pete Du Pont used the following quotes I found to be inspiring and interesting:

"No government can be all things to all people, nor can it be or will it be."
"American's are ready for the new class warfare. The battle lines are drawn for these times"

He believes that cost of post-secondary school is too high, but also that the government should not get involved with issues of pricing college education.

He also said that China's growing middle class is good for production in the USA.

Clyde Prestowitz spoke on:
Agrees that economic power is the most important.
Explained why some major companies are building factories in China. China provides major incentives for US companies to come and bring jobs there, as well as severe disincentives to not do so -- veiled or unspoken threats to exclude us from their markets. They may also force US companies to provide intellectual capital as part of the deal, or simply steal it.

Amory Lovin said the following:
"What if energy could do our work without doing our undoing."
"We must leave oil before it leaves us."

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson:
"We have militarized the decision making process"
That, just as less than one percent are millionaires, less then one percent of the US population serve in our armed forces and are put in harm's way. Many of these people come either from small towns or the inner city.

Captain Wayne Porter and Colonel Mark Mykleby explained the origin and inspiration for the "Y Article":

That we live in an ecological system.
We live in an open system but we as humans view it as a closed system.
That they want the US citizenry to become more active and to fulfill the moral obligation put forth by the preamble of the Constitution.
These are 3 key action items they recommend:
1) Education
2) Security as well as broader definition like free of diseases and negative thoughts.
3) Renewable resources:
Food systems and agriculture.
Water conservation
Sustainable energy

Some impressive speakers and a personal vindication

The one full day of the Conference is now over and I can provide a brief personal report: The speakers were all excellent, but I for one was especially impressed with Clyde Prestowitz, Amory Lovins, and the "Mr Y" authors Colonel Mykleby and Captain Porter.

It's rare in conference-going that a whole day of speakers are all so good.

My particular favorites were Mykleby and Porter. This is part bias or even baggage from my own background -- I left the British military during in 1985 in protest at much the same kind of paleo, unsustainable thinking their "strategic narrative" moves so forcefully away from, albeit then from Margaret Thatcher and her government of the day.

For right or wrong at the time, influenced by the writings of Schumacher and Porritt, among others, I felt that Thatcher's acceptance of American nuclear-tipped cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe (making Britain ground zero in what seemed like a war Reagan wanted to start with the Soviets), and her brutal suppressions of the Greenham Common Peace Camp women and the miner's union, were terrible ecological mistakes. I wrote a long and probably tedious attack on the workings of the British version of the military industrial complex, the ecological fallacies of the Thatcherites, and so on, and went through a longer and yet more tedious legal case to get out.

At the time I won my honorable discharge (at a Queen's Regulation Tribunal) and kept my pension. I was one of a small handful of QR 67 discharge-ees during the Greenham Common/1984 miner's strike era. I became quite radicalized for a time, and committed to the environmental movement, first in Scotland and then America. With my discharge I was able to emigrate and get an education in sustainability, concluding eventually with the PhD and the appointment at Unity College.

But the loss of my first career, which I loved, especially the rescue work in the RAFMRS, and the sense of loss of my old comrades, always sat uneasily with me. As consolation and out of a sense of duty and because I love the work, I maintained my service to SAR efforts, as well as social contact with my old mates from the RAFMRS. But Myckleby and Porter's work brings this difficult time of my life full circle in a different way. Here is a timely and honorable acceptance, from within the highest reaches of the US military, of all the human ecological and sustainability theory my life has been about during and since my discharge. No longer am I the wild-eyed radical. My point of view has become mainstream and even respectable.

It's a personal vindication of sorts, or at least a re-circling and re-acceptance.

It wasn't the only one. The re-circling and re-acceptance that mattered most to me was the visit to Unity College in 2009 of my old friend Heavy Whalley, who had been the team leader on the Lockerbie Air Disaster just a short while after I left the service, and had just retired as a Warrant Officer and one of the most senior and experienced NCOs in the entire British rescue system. Heavy and I were able to talk at length and reconcile our two disparate lives since my discharge, and come to terms each in his own way with my departure those many years earlier, as well as the various burdens and stresses we both had separately carried since then. I was deeply gratified to hear him tell me how well he thought of my previous protest. We were, and are still, old comrades.

But to hear Mykleby and Porter state out loud and to such applause that sustainability should be the primary end of American and western strategy, well, that was a different kind of vindication.

After all these years.

The "Y Article" speech

Half an hour ago, the greatest speech I have ever heard, ended at the 25th Camden Conference. Captain Wayne Porter (USN) and Colonel Mark Mykleby (USMC-Retired) wrote what is known as the "Y Article" back in the summer of 2010. As mentioned before in this blog, the Y Article was written in an effort to make the American people think about how we live. The article sparked discussion across the country and did what it was designed to do, it made people think about how we live.

Both Captain Porter and Colonel Mykleby spoke at the Camden Conference about the Y Article and some of the beliefs they hold. The both of them started working together when they were tasked by the former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to write a National Grand Strategy. In their pursuit of that they discovered that there were things we had to change in America, that we needed to change some of our priorities and refocus them.

The number 1 priority that they saw that needed to be changed was education and our commitment (or lack there of) to the educational system in the U.S. The 2nd priority they saw that needed to be changed was our definition of security. The 3rd priority they saw that needed to be changed was our development and access to renewable ideas, not just in terms of energy but also in terms of food and water.

They also talked about the idea of sustainability and how it needs to be the cornerstone of our country ideals. We need that refocus onto sustainability. They stated that the cause of the 21st century is the sustainability cause, but in order to do that we need to be citizens of the U.S. rather than those who just "pay rent".

I won't summarize the entire speech for you on this blog, but I did want to point out what I thought were some of the most important topics discussed by those two men. I will state it again though, the speech that Captain Porter and Colonel Mykleby (retired) gave on the "Y Article" was the BEST I have ever heard. They are speaking the Unity language and that language will continue to become more important as time goes on and will become center stage before we know it. That is why our education from Unity College becomes more important every day.

Prestowitz vs. duPont

The debate between Clyde Prestowitz and Governor du Pont should be an interesting test of their views on government "catalysis" in the economy. Prestowitz is hyping Chinese government industrial support policies and beginning to argue that we have to follow suit, while du Pont argued that US government involvement in the economy should be reduced.

Q and A should be interesting!

(Live at the Camden Conference)

Detroit and decline-ism

One key idea at this years conference is American decline-ism. Earlier I gave some of my own views.

An interesting case in point is the Detroit recovery. Here's this morning's Guardian on the added stress the Romney campaign is receiving from Michigan voters.

One thing I didn't know: The Economist argued against the auto industry bail-out, but was willing to apologize when it succeeded.

I'm not sure how reasonable thinking people can, on the one hand, be worried about the rise of China, with its very large amounts of public intervention in the economy, and on the other argue that the US can survive the 21st Century without an economically active government.

It makes no sense.

Eric Li (below), somewhat annoyingly, argued that we should give up our weak, messy democratic ideals and instead adopt the Chinese authoritarianism. My initial retort was, if the Chinese system is so cool, why do so many Chinese come here to get and education and work? Freedom to think and play with ideas is key to innovation. The Chinese will be a awesome nation when they embrace that same messy but creative freedom. But they're not there yet, indeed, until they allow freedom of religion and association for, for instance, the Tibetans, they're nowhere near.

Thankfully, Li's Chinese dog will never hunt in the US, for the simple reason we've been too messy and creative, democratically speaking, for too long. And it's a good thing.

But I do think we could take a leaf or two out of the Chinese book when it comes to government involvement in shaping and encouraging an otherwise capitalist economy.

Indeed, as long as we're in what Governor Richardson last night termed a "strategic competition" with China, we might be foolish not to.

He also explained that he thought the government was a key "catalyst" in the economy, and hinted that after some recent confusion during the "Great Recession", the Democratic party in the US was beginning to realize that it needed to become the party of government-private partnership; a new focus and indeed, a new primary economic ideology and identity.

That seems to be the lesson of Detroit, especially after the announcement of GM's record seven billion dollar profit last year.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Key Note Speaker (William "bill" Richardson)

"How humans can live more equability"- William Richardson
I found this quote very interesting and wanted to see how others felt about this.

William Richardson spoke on what he believed will be the three most important issues in years to come in the USA. The first is immigration both legal and illegal immigration. How will we deal with it as well as what can we do? The second major issue is education exceptionally when it comes to education of immigrates children. The third major issue was climate change which also included energy usage. He spoke on how we need to move from fossil fuels to more renewable energy, and that we need to create green jobs. He sees natural gas the bridge between oil and renewable energy.

I also wanted to share with you what William Richardson said "were the key skills to be a leader in the 21st century."

1) Be bold and confident
2)Get a good education. Like if you want to be involved politics you should invest in a law degree.
3) Good morals. The way he explained it was to stick to your guns.