So Navy Times scribe Phil Ewing sat down with me the other day to discuss blogging, the ex-USS Iowa, naval history and blogging. The result was a Scoop Deck interview, entitled “Hanging’ with Dr. Hooper“. If you want to know why I do this–and why I’m retiring the old “Defense Springboard” alias, go pay Scoop Deck a visit.
In the interview, we discussed how blogging has become a means to for new defense policy/national security talent to emerge. Having the trillion-dollar defense industry tied to three or four oft-quoted defense commentators is not healthy. The community needs a more voices–whose views are not compromised by where they’re getting their paycheck.
In the interview, I threw down a marker for those big-league defense commentators:
“…what Iâ€™d like to sort of try and be is the anti-Loren Thompson. Loren is a great source, a smart person, but heâ€™s become so ensnared in his competing interests, itâ€™s difficult to take him credibly [a good example is here].”
Uh…can you hear us bloggers now, Loren? Or are you at the beach?
(To be honest, I’ve been Loren bashing a long time–back before it was cool to do so. Here’s some coverage of Loren contradicting himself on the LCS back in September 16, 2009 and Loren doing a ex-SECNAV Winter apologia from early 2008. In my mind, good, solid debate makes for better strategies and better weapons…but when paid flacks enter the public sphere they, more often than not, protect errors and work to sustain mistakes.)
In the interview I pushed back on the choke-hold Washington, DC holds on defense policy debates. That’s normal–DC is the center of gravity, where the decision-makers live. But over-centralization leads to group-think and limits input. So, in my mind, it’s good to build and maintain separate, independent centers of defense policy expertise.
Let’s put it this way. San Francisco isn’t exactly synonymous with defense expertise–but it’s growing–from scratch–a community of defense policy people:
“…doing it out here in San Francisco has been great. Thereâ€™s a lot of enthusiasm for this. Weâ€™re starting to build a policy community where there wasnâ€™t one. Weâ€™ve got Kyle Mizokami, heâ€™s blogging about the Japanese navy and the Japanese self defense force; we have Christopher Albon [note: when he's not off doing thesis research in Africa]. Itâ€™s neat to build a competing center to provide a little bit of a a reality check on the Beltway bloggers, so to speak.”
San Francisco doesn’t have a critical mass of defense policy expertise available–yet. But in a few years, who knows? Wait and see…
Finally, well, we discussed civil-military communication. Though the military has made enormous progress in engaging, it still has a way to go:
“…When the military loses its ability to communicate itself and its ideas in a patient way, thatâ€™s disturbing. That weakens the very fabric of our nation. Itâ€™s tremendously important for the military to learn how to engage and explain itself to its citizens. In this era of complex weapons, of projects, of complex strategies, it really needs to go the extra mile and tell its message. Anything I can do in that regard, I feel like, is time well spent…”
- Midrats this Sunday, May 17 2013 – Episode 167: Intellectual Integrity, PME, and NWC
- Remembering our Fallen Coast Guard Shipmates and their Families
- On Midrats 10 Mar 13, Episode 166: “Expeditionary Fleet Balance”
- Guest Post by LTJG Matthew Hipple: From Epipolae to Cyber War
- For Strength and Courage: Neptunus Lex