Monday, June 11, 2018

Three simple things the Trump-Kim summit could—and should—achieve

Three simple things the Trump-Kim summit could—and should—achieve

Quartz · by David Maxwell
Editor’s note: We asked North Korea experts what outcomes of the Trump-Kim summit might leave them feeling a tiny bit relieved. The answer below came in longer than expected, so we’re running it separately. Note that ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, aka South Korea.
In short, as long as there is no damage to the ROK/US alliance and no agreement that results in an order for immediate or near-term withdrawal (or significant reduction) of US troops on the Korean peninsula, I will breathe a sigh of relief. Another way to say it is I will breathe a sigh of relief if the US (and the ROK) does not fall prey to North Korea’s charm offensive and give concessions with no substantive action in return.
There are two sets of questions we should be asking going into the summit:
First, we need to think deeply about this: Has Kim Jong Un given up the foundational strategy of unification of the peninsula under the north’s control through subversion, coercion, and use of force in order to ensure regime survival? Has he given up the key supporting objective to split the ROK/US alliance to get US forces off the peninsula so that the north can achieve unification? The answer to these questions should guide our strategy.
Second, what do we want to achieve in Korea? What is the acceptable durable political arrangement on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia that will serve and protect US and ROK/US alliance interests? Again the answer to these questions should guide our strategy.
Personally, I have seen no evidence that Kim has given up on the Kim family regime strategy. Therefore my personal assessment remains this:
The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats—and to the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult in charge—is through unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure, stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.
The only way we are going to achieve that is through an ROK-led effort with the full support of the United States. And for every scenario short of unification—addressing provocations, deterring North Korean attack, defeating an attack, dealing with the myriad contingencies that will arise from North Korean instability and regime collapse—a strong ROK/US alliance is necessary for a successful outcome.
Therefore while we pursue diplomacy, which I believe must be the priority, we must keep in mind that the “Big Five​” will always be looming in the background and we cannot take our eyes of the ball in regards to security:
  1. War: the ROK/US Alliance must deter, and if attacked defend, fight, and win.
  2. Regime collapse: The ROK/US Alliance must prepare for the real possibility and understand it could lead to war. Both war and regime collapse could result in resistance to unification within the north. (This would make the Iraq and Afghan resistances pale in comparison.)
  3. Human rights and crimes against humanity: The denial of human rights helps keep the Kim regime in power and is key to prioritizing resources for the nuclear and missile programs. We must focus on the gulags, external forced labor, and other abuses by the regime.
  4. Asymmetric threats (cyber attacks, special operation forces, provocations to gain political and economic concessions) and global illicit activities (Office 39): These are all employed to gain hard currency for the Kim regime and support its political warfare on the peninsula, in the region, and on a global scale.
  5. Unification: The biggest challenge is the unnatural division of the Korean peninsula. It’s also the key to a solution.
The challenge for South Korea, the US, regional powers, and the international community is how to get to unification from our current state of armistice and the temporary cessation of hostilities. The ROK and its allies face an extraordinary security challenge because of the “Big Five.” War, regime collapse, and the nuclear and missile programs pose an existential threat. It is a moral imperative to work to relieve the suffering of the Korean people who live in the worst sustained human rights conditions in modern history. While unification is the desired and necessary “end state,” or better yet the acceptable durable political arrangement, achieving it will be costly in treasure for sure and blood as well. There is likely no path to unification without some form of conflict—it may only be a question of scale.
​However, despite the above, I think the summit will likely occur and that success is a low bar. Here are three simple objectives:
  1. Meet and greet. Allow Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to look each other in the eye and lay out their positions.
  2. Agree to allow expert representatives to meet and work on a process for the dismantlement of the north’s nuclear program—without ending sanctions until there is substantive and verifiable action by the north.
  3. Agree to a follow-up meeting to discuss results of the expert representative meetings (perhaps in three to six months).
Lastly, based on recent reporting in Washington and Seoul—as well as the results of the Panmunjom Declaration signed at the inter-Korean summit in late April—I think it is possible that we will see a declaration to end the Korean War. As long as we do not fall victim to the euphoria such a declaration will bring and keep the question of the north’s foundational strategy in mind, I will breathe a sigh of relief.
If such a declaration is made, there will need to be a parallel effort by the ROK, US, and the north to develop and implement a peace mechanism that will ensure the security of the peninsula. A declaration of the end of the Korean War will be simple. Developing a peace mechanism and ensuring security and stability on the peninsula while the Kim family regime remains in power will remain the most pressing, complex, and difficult challenge.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Korean Armistice, ROK/US Mutual Defense Treaty and A Declaration of the End of the Korean War


As we speculate about the possibility of a declaration of the end of the Korean War at the June 12th summit in Singapore I was asked what may be the outcome and effects of such a declaration.  So i thought I would provide some background along with my layman's analysis.  I am not legally trained or an international lawyer but I did once stay at a Holiday Inn Express so please take this with a grain of slat. I expect that there could be a number of different perspectives on these issues.

Specifically I was asked what will this mean for the United Nations Command (UNC) , the ROK/US Combined Forces Command (ROK/US CFC) , and United States Forces Korea (USFK)?  Will any or all commands be disbanded and will any or all US forces leave the ROK?

I think we should acknowledge that such a declaration will not have the force of international law as in a treaty or peace agreement.  While a declaration would be good symbolically and for the start of a process there will be a lot of work that will need to be done to put into place mechanisms that will ensure the peace and specific agreements negotiated that will allow the political leaders (heads of state/government and their legislatures) to get approval in accordance with their national processes.

In regards to the Korean situation this is untested international law.  It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.  

The Armistice:

Note that Nam Il signed for nK and for the CPV and Harrison for the UN.  They were the signatories present at the signing.  Kim, Peng, and Clark signed later.  However, these are all military leaders signing a military agreement to suspend hostilities.  The armistice is not a political document.  Also note that neither China nor north Korea were members of the UN (neither was the ROK but the UN intervened to stop aggression against the South)

Note also that all electronic versions of the Armistice at State or at Yale or Cornell in their legal repositories only have Nam Il's  and Harrison's signature blocks.  See the State Department version here: https://2001-2009.state.gov/t/ac/rls/or/2004/31006.htm As noted Kim, Peng, and Clark all signed at a later time.  But again this was a military document between two sides fighting the war and not a political document.

So we should remember that the Armistice was an agreement between military commanders and only covered a handful of actions or conditions:

* A suspension of open hostilities
* A fixed demarcation line with a 4km (2.4 miles) buffer zone - the so-called demilitarized zone (DMZ)
* A mechanism for the transfer of prisoners of war

Both sides pledged not to "execute any hostile act within, from, or against the demilitarized zone", or enter areas under control of the other.

The agreement also called for the establishment of the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) and other agencies to ensure the truce held.

The MAC, which comprises members from both sides, still meets regularly in the truce village of Panmunjom.

As a side note, but an important one, the Northern Limit Line (NLL) was established separate from the Armistice as a control measure for how far ROK vessels could go north.  It was established around the Northwest Islands which remained under UN Control after the war.  The NLL is not an internationally recognized boundary and is not part of the Armistice; however, the ROK has treated it as a de facto boundary and the north has also challenged it as a boundary.  As we all know this area has been the location for numerous naval conflicts between north and South.

It is only paragraph 60 of the Armistice that recommends that political parties resolve the "Korea question." (the division of the peninsula - remember at the time north Korea was not a legitimate nation).

Recommendations to the Governments Concerned on Both Sides

60. In order to insure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, the military Commanders of both sides hereby recommend to the governments of the countries concerned on both sides that, within three (3) months after the Armistice Agreement is signed and becomes effective, a political conference of a higher level of both sides be held by representatives appointed respectively to settle through negotiation the questions of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc.

It is paragraph 62 that explains how it the Armistice is replaced:

61. Amendments and additions to this Armistice Agreement must be mutually agreed to by the Commanders of the opposing sides.

62. The Articles and Paragraphs of this Armistice Agreement shall remain in effect until expressly superseded either by mutually acceptable amendments and additions or by provision in an appropriate agreement for a peaceful settlement at a political level between both sides.

(Note that per para 61 while in force it is the military commanders who must mutually agree to additions or amendments to the Armistice).

The United Nations Command:

Whether the UN Command continues to exist is up in the air.  I think that the UN Security Council resolutions 82-85 would have to be rescinded to dissolve the UN command (84 specifically established the UNC asked the US in command of the UNC).  There is nothing in the resolutions that calls for ending the UN Command.  I think the only thing that would logically happen is the Military Armistice Commission would be disestablished since that is an Armistice created organization.  Of course the ROK could ask for the UN Command to leave at any time for any reason simply by saying it no longer needs UN assistance (note that we (the US) always fight to maintain the UN command for a number of reasons, one of which are the 7 UN designated bases in Japan that will serve as ISBs and key to reinforcing the peninsula in wartime.  Another is the slippery slope that disbanding it could lead to - the dis-establishment of the ROK/US CFC and the redeployment of USFK back to the US.


We should keep in mind that the two belligerents are the north and South. The UN recognized the north's aggression against the South and called on member nations to come to its defense ("to assist the Republic of Korea" which I think is an important phrase).   The Chinese Peoples' Volunteers (an "unofficial" military organization) intervened to assist the north.

Of course if the north and South sign a peace treaty ending their hostilities it is logical to argue that the UN command should be dissolved.  But I do not think there is any international precedent for this.  Also, there is nothing in the Armistice that says the signatories of the Armistice must also sign a peace treaty.  Again international lawyers are going to hash this out but now we have two member nations of the UN (north and South) and if they choose to end the war who can stop them?  And of course once they do that all kinds of arguments will be made (like Moon Chung-in in his May 9 Foreign Affairs essay) that there is no more rationale for the UN command or US troops on the Korean peninsula.

Korea US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1953:

However, USFK and CFC exist and are present as a result of a bi-lateral agreement in the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1953. Note below that the MDT makes no mention of north Korea or the DPRK.  A peace treaty should technically have no impact on the presence of US forces and bilateral ROK/US agreements.  US troops are present by mutual agreement but if the South wants them to leave I expect we will immediately leave - we are not a nation that would occupy a sovereign country against its wishes - even if it were for its own good!! (there is also the ROK/US Terms of Reference and the Strategic Directive from the Military Committee but those are classified ROK/US only).  See the MDT below for details.  

So the jury is still out on all of this.  These are uncharted waters in my opinion. I go to the basics.  There are two belligerents, north and South, and they had a civil war wth the fighting temporarily suspended.  The UN and Chinese intervened to support the two sides.  The military commanders agreed to an Armistice to halt the fighting and to buy time for the political parties to find a resolution (Para 60).  We have been in suspended animation for almost 70 years and now we may see some kind of political movement.

One last thing. If on June 12th The US, nK and the ROK say that the war is officially ended I do not think that officially changes anything until there is a peace agreement negotiated between north and South with a mechanism put in place to ensure the peace.  I see the US and possibly the Chinese role as mere guarantors of security but I do not think they have to be signatories on a peace treaty since the US was acting for the UN and the Chinese only sent "volunteers."  The treaty obligations of both the US with the ROK and China with nK are separate agreements and do not necessarily impact on the peace treaty (they certainly do not become null and void because of a declaration of the end of the war or a peace agreement/treaty).  I also see no way for the US, China, or the UN to "veto" a peace treaty between the north and South.  I also think it would be political suicide for any party to do so.  I think a declaration of the end of the war would be symbolic only but would have tremendous political influence (and popular influence) and will likely be described by both sides as the start of the process toward CVID, normalization, lifting of sanctions, economic investment, etc.

This is my layman's analysis.  I will have to defer to the International lawyers and judges for interpretations and rulings!


Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea; October 1, 1953(1)
The Parties to this Treaty,
Reaffirming their desire to live in peace with all peoples and an governments, and desiring to strengthen the fabric of peace in the Pacific area,
Desiring to declare publicly and formally their common determination to defend themselves against external armed attack so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone in the Pacific area,
Desiring further to strengthen their efforts for collective defense for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive and effective system of regional security in the Pacific area,
Have agreed as follows:

ARTICLE I

The Parties undertake to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations, or obligations assumed by any Party toward the United Nations.

ARTICLE II

The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of either of them, the political independence or security of either of the Parties is threatened by external armed attack. Separately and jointly, by self help and mutual aid, the Parties will maintain and develop appropriate means to deter armed attack and will take suitable measures in consultation and agreement to implement this Treaty and to further its purposes.

ARTICLE III

Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the Parties in territories now under their respective administrative control, or hereafter recognized by one of the Parties as lawfully brought under the administrative control of the other, would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.

ARTICLE IV

The Republic of Korea grants, and the United States of America accepts, the right to dispose United States land, air and sea forces in and about the territory of the Republic of Korea as determined by mutual agreement.

ARTICLE V

This Treaty shall be ratified by the United States of America and the Republic of Korea in accordance with their respective constitutional processes and will come into force when instruments of ratification thereof have been exchanged by them at Washington.(2)

ARTICLE VI

This Treaty shall remain in force indefinitely. Either Party may terminate it one year after notice has been given to the other Party.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned Plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty.
DONE in duplicate at Washington, in the English and Korean languages, this first day of October 1953.

UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNITED STATES (3)

[The United States Senate gave its advice and consent to the ratification of the treaty subject to the following understanding:]
It is the understanding of the United States that neither party is obligated, under Article III of the above Treaty, to come to the aid of the other except in case of an external armed attack against such party; nor shall anything in the present Treaty be construed as requiring the United States to give assistance to Korea except in the event of an armed attack against territory which has been recognized by the United States as lawfully brought under the administrative control of the Republic of Korea.
[The United States communicated the text of the understanding to the Republic of Korea in a note of January 28, 1954, acknowledged by the Republic of Korea in a note of February 1, 1954. The text of the understanding was included in the President's proclamation of November 17, 1954.]
(1) TIAS 3097, 5 UST 23602376. Ratification advised by the Senate Jan. 26, 1954, and ratified by the President Feb. 5, 1954, subject to an understanding; entered into force Nov. 17, 1954. Back
(2) Ratifications were exchanged Nov. 17, 1954. Back
(3) TIAS 3097. Back

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Thoughts on the Possible US-north Korea Summit on June 12th

I was asked for my thoughts on what would let me breathe a sigh of relief after the outcome of the summit.

In short, as long as there is no damage to the ROK/US alliance and there is no agreement that results in an order for immediate or near term withdrawal or significant reduction of US troops on the peninsula I will breathe a sigh of relief.  Another way to say it is I will breathe a sigh of relief if the US (and the ROK) does not fall prey to the north's charm offensive and give concessions with no substantive action from the north in return.

There are two sets of questions we should be asking going into the summit:

First,  we need to think deeply about this:  Has Kim Jong-un given up the foundational strategy of unification of the peninsula under the north's control through subversion, coercion, and use of force in order to ensure regime survival?  Has Kim given up the key supporting objective to split the ROK/US alliance to get US forces off the peninsula so that it can achieve unification? The answer to these questions should guide our strategy.

Second, what do we want to achieve in Korea? What is the acceptable durable political arrangement on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia that will serve and protect US and ROK/US Alliance interests?  Again the answer to these questions should guide our strategy.

Personally, I have seen no evidence that Kim has given up on the Kim Family Regime strategy. Therefore my personal assessment remains this: 

The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats and to the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the North by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure and stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.

The only way we are going to achieve a unified Korea is through a ROK led effort with the full support of the United States.  And for every scenario short of unification from addressing provocations, deterring North Korean attack, to defeating an attack, to dealing with the myriad contingencies that will arise from North Korean instability and regime collapse a strong ROK/US alliance is necessary for a successful outcome.

​Therefore while we pursue diplomacy, which I believe must be the priority, we must keep in mind that the "Big Five​" will always be looming in the background and we cannot take our eyes of the ball in regards to security:


1. War - the ROK/US Alliance must deter, and if attacked defend, fight and win.

2. Regime Collapse - The ROK/US Alliance must prepare for the real possibility and understand it could lead to war and both war and regime collapse could result in resistance to unification within the north. (This would make the Iraq and Afghan resistance pale in comparison)

3. Human Rights and Crimes Against Humanity - (gulags, external forced labor, etc) must focus on as it is a threat to the Kim Family Regime and undermines domestic legitimacy - and it is a moral imperative.  Human Rights is a national security issue because their denial keeps the regime in power and the denial of human rights is key to prioritizing resources for the nuclear and missile programs.

4. Asymmetric threats (provocations to gain political and economic concessions, nuclear program, missile, cyber, and SOF) and global illicit activities (Department 39) are all employed to gain hard currency for the regime and support the regime's conduct of political warfare on the peninsula, in the region, and on a global scale.

5. Unification - the biggest challenge and the solution to the Korea question, which is the unnatural division of the Korean peninsula.

The challenge for the Republic of Korea (ROK), the US, the regional powers, and the international community is how to get from our current state of Armistice and the temporary cessation of hostilities to unification as the path most likely will involve some level of conflict ranging from war to civil conflict and potentially horrendous human suffering in the northern part of Korea. The ROK and its friends and allies face an extraordinary security challenge because of the "Big Five." War, regime collapse, and the nuclear and missile programs pose an existential threat. It is a moral imperative to work to relieve the suffering of the Korean people who live in the worst sustained human rights conditions in modern history. While unification is the desired and necessary "end state," or better yet the acceptable durable political arrangement, achieving it will be costly in treasure for sure and blood as well as there is likely no path to unification without some form of conflict, it may only be a question of scale.

​However, despite the above I think the summit will likely occur and success is a low bar with three simple objectives: 

1. “Meet and greet” to look KJU in the eye and allow the POTUS and Kim to lay out positions.
2. Agree to allow expert representatives to meet and work on a process for dismantlement of the north's nuclear program without ending sanctions until there is substantive and verifiable action by the north.
3. Agree to a follow-up meeting to discuss results of expert representative meetings (perhaps in 3 to 6 months)

Lastly, based on recent reporting in Washington and Seoul as well as the results of the 27 April Panmunjom Declaration I think it is possible that we will see a declaration to the end of the Korean War.  As long as we do not fall victim to the euphoria such a declaration will bring and keep the question of the north's foundational strategy in mind I will breathe a sigh of relief.  And if such a declaration is made there will need to be a parallel effort by the ROK, US, and north Korea to develop and implement a peace mechanism that will ensure the security of north and South.  A declaration of the end of the Korean War will be simple.  developing a peace mechanism and ensuring security and stability on the Korean peninsula while the Kim Family Regime remains in power will remain the most pressing. complex, and difficult challenge.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How the Enlightenment Ends by Henry Kissinger

A powerful read.  Only Henry Kissinger could combine the Enlightenment and Article Intelligence for a critical essay.

In addition to reading this important essay for the philosophical (and technical) discussion there is one paragraph that should inspire us all because Dr. Kissinger is truly the epitome of a life-long learner and we should all strive to emulate him in at least this aspect. As brilliant an intellect as he is he knows his limitations and set out to overcome them.  At 94 years old he knows he has much to learn.  How many of us who are much younger and are digital immigrants or even digital aliens have said that this AI stuff is just too complicated or complex and I do not need to worry about it and will leave that to our youth.

Excerpts:

Aware of my lack of technical competence in this field, I organized a number of informal dialogues on the subject, with the advice and cooperation of acquaintances in technology and the humanities. These discussions have caused my concerns to grow.

The internet age in which we already live prefigures some of the questions and issues that AI will only make more acute. The Enlightenment sought to submit traditional verities to a liberated, analytic human reason. The internet’s purpose is to ratify knowledge through the accumulation and manipulation of ever expanding data. Human cognition loses its personal character. Individuals turn into data, and data become regnant.

A powerful conclusion that we should really ponder:

The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy. Other countries have made AI a major national project. The United States has not yet, as a nation, systematically explored its full scope, studied its implications, or begun the process of ultimate learning. This should be given a high national priority, above all, from the point of view of relating AI to humanistic traditions.

AI developers, as inexperienced in politics and philosophy as I am in technology, should ask themselves some of the questions I have raised here in order to build answers into their engineering efforts. The U.S. government should consider a presidential commission of eminent thinkers to help develop a national vision. This much is certain: If we do not start this effort soon, before long we shall discover that we started too late.

How the Enlightenment Ends

Henry A. Kissinger/May 15, 2018
Philosophically, intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of artificial intelligence.
Three years ago, at a conference on transatlantic issues, the subject of artificial intelligence appeared on the agenda. I was on the verge of skipping that session—it lay outside my usual concerns—but the beginning of the presentation held me in my seat.
The speaker described the workings of a computer program that would soon challenge international champions in the game Go. I was amazed that a computer could master Go, which is more complex than chess. In it, each player deploys 180 or 181 pieces (depending on which color he or she chooses), placed alternately on an initially empty board; victory goes to the side that, by making better strategic decisions, immobilizes his or her opponent by more effectively controlling territory.
The speaker insisted that this ability could not be preprogrammed. His machine, he said, learned to master Go by training itself through practice. Given Go’s basic rules, the computer played innumerable games against itself, learning from its mistakes and refining its algorithms accordingly. In the process, it exceeded the skills of its human mentors. And indeed, in the months following the speech, an AI program named AlphaGo would decisively defeat the world’s greatest Go players.
As I listened to the speaker celebrate this technical progress, my experience as a historian and occasional practicing statesman gave me pause. What would be the impact on history of self-learning machines—machines that acquired knowledge by processes particular to themselves, and applied that knowledge to ends for which there may be no category of human understanding? Would these machines learn to communicate with one another? How would choices be made among emerging options? Was it possible that human history might go the way of the Incas, faced with a Spanish culture incomprehensible and even awe-inspiring to them? Were we at the edge of a new phase of human history?
Aware of my lack of technical competence in this field, I organized a number of informal dialogues on the subject, with the advice and cooperation of acquaintances in technology and the humanities. These discussions have caused my concerns to grow.
Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order.
But that order is now in upheaval amid a new, even more sweeping technological revolution whose consequences we have failed to fully reckon with, and whose culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.
The internet age in which we already live prefigures some of the questions and issues that AI will only make more acute. The Enlightenment sought to submit traditional verities to a liberated, analytic human reason. The internet’s purpose is to ratify knowledge through the accumulation and manipulation of ever expanding data. Human cognition loses its personal character. Individuals turn into data, and data become regnant.
Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs. In the process, search-engine algorithms acquire the capacity to predict the preferences of individual clients, enabling the algorithms to personalize results and make them available to other parties for political or commercial purposes. Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.
Inundated via social media with the opinions of multitudes, users are diverted from introspection; in truth many technophiles use the internet to avoid the solitude they dread. All of these pressures weaken the fortitude required to develop and sustain convictions that can be implemented only by traveling a lonely road, which is the essence of creativity.
The impact of internet technology on politics is particularly pronounced. The ability to target micro-groups has broken up the previous consensus on priorities by permitting a focus on specialized purposes or grievances. Political leaders, overwhelmed by niche pressures, are deprived of time to think or reflect on context, contracting the space available for them to develop vision.
The digital world’s emphasis on speed inhibits reflection; its incentive empowers the radical over the thoughtful; its values are shaped by subgroup consensus, not by introspection. For all its achievements, it runs the risk of turning on itself as its impositions overwhelm its conveniences.
As the internet and increased computing power have facilitated the accumulation and analysis of vast data, unprecedented vistas for human understanding have emerged. Perhaps most significant is the project of producing artificial intelligence—a technology capable of inventing and solving complex, seemingly abstract problems by processes that seem to replicate those of the human mind.
This goes far beyond automation as we have known it. Automation deals with means; it achieves prescribed objectives by rationalizing or mechanizing instruments for reaching them. AI, by contrast, deals with ends; it establishes its own objectives. To the extent that its achievements are in part shaped by itself, AI is inherently unstable. AI systems, through their very operations, are in constant flux as they acquire and instantly analyze new data, then seek to improve themselves on the basis of that analysis. Through this process, artificial intelligence develops an ability previously thought to be reserved for human beings. It makes strategic judgments about the future, some based on data received as code (for example, the rules of a game), and some based on data it gathers itself (for example, by playing 1 million iterations of a game).
The driverless car illustrates the difference between the actions of traditional human-controlled, software-powered computers and the universe AI seeks to navigate. Driving a car requires judgments in multiple situations impossible to anticipate and hence to program in advance. What would happen, to use a well-known hypothetical example, if such a car were obliged by circumstance to choose between killing a grandparent and killing a child? Whom would it choose? Why? Which factors among its options would it attempt to optimize? And could it explain its rationale? Challenged, its truthful answer would likely be, were it able to communicate: “I don’t know (because I am following mathematical, not human, principles),” or “You would not understand (because I have been trained to act in a certain way but not to explain it).” Yet driverless cars are likely to be prevalent on roads within a decade.
Heretofore confined to specific fields of activity, AI research now seeks to bring about a “generally intelligent” AI capable of executing tasks in multiple fields. A growing percentage of human activity will, within a measurable time period, be driven by AI algorithms. But these algorithms, being mathematical interpretations of observed data, do not explain the underlying reality that produces them. Paradoxically, as the world becomes more transparent, it will also become increasingly mysterious. What will distinguish that new world from the one we have known? How will we live in it? How will we manage AI, improve it, or at the very least prevent it from doing harm, culminating in the most ominous concern: that AI, by mastering certain competencies more rapidly and definitively than humans, could over time diminish human competence and the human condition itself as it turns it into data.
Artificial intelligence will in time bring extraordinary benefits to medical science, clean-energy provision, environmental issues, and many other areas. But precisely because AI makes judgments regarding an evolving, as-yet-undetermined future, uncertainty and ambiguity are inherent in its results. There are three areas of special concern:
First, that AI may achieve unintended results. Science fiction has imagined scenarios of AI turning on its creators. More likely is the danger that AI will misinterpret human instructions due to its inherent lack of context. A famous recent example was the AI chatbot called Tay, designed to generate friendly conversation in the language patterns of a 19-year-old girl. But the machine proved unable to define the imperatives of “friendly” and “reasonable” language installed by its instructors and instead became racist, sexist, and otherwise inflammatory in its responses. Some in the technology world claim that the experiment was ill-conceived and poorly executed, but it illustrates an underlying ambiguity: To what extent is it possible to enable AI to comprehend the context that informs its instructions? What medium could have helped Tay define for itself offensive, a word upon whose meaning humans do not universally agree? Can we, at an early stage, detect and correct an AI program that is acting outside our framework of expectation? Or will AI, left to its own devices, inevitably develop slight deviations that could, over time, cascade into catastrophic departures?
Second, that in achieving intended goals, AI may change human thought processes and human values. AlphaGo defeated the world Go champions by making strategically unprecedented moves—moves that humans had not conceived and have not yet successfully learned to overcome. Are these moves beyond the capacity of the human brain? Or could humans learn them now that they have been demonstrated by a new master?
Before AI began to play Go, the game had varied, layered purposes: A player sought not only to win, but also to learn new strategies potentially applicable to other of life’s dimensions. For its part, by contrast, AI knows only one purpose: to win. It “learns” not conceptually but mathematically, by marginal adjustments to its algorithms. So in learning to win Go by playing it differently than humans do, AI has changed both the game’s nature and its impact. Does this single-minded insistence on prevailing characterize all AI?
Other AI projects work on modifying human thought by developing devices capable of generating a range of answers to human queries. Beyond factual questions (“What is the temperature outside?”), questions about the nature of reality or the meaning of life raise deeper issues. Do we want children to learn values through discourse with untethered algorithms? Should we protect privacy by restricting AI’s learning about its questioners? If so, how do we accomplish these goals?
If AI learns exponentially faster than humans, we must expect it to accelerate, also exponentially, the trial-and-error process by which human decisions are generally made: to make mistakes faster and of greater magnitude than humans do. It may be impossible to temper those mistakes, as researchers in AI often suggest, by including in a program caveats requiring “ethical” or “reasonable” outcomes. Entire academic disciplines have arisen out of humanity’s inability to agree upon how to define these terms. Should AI therefore become their arbiter?
Third, that AI may reach intended goals, but be unable to explain the rationale for its conclusions. In certain fields—pattern recognition, big-data analysis, gaming—AI’s capacities already may exceed those of humans. If its computational power continues to compound rapidly, AI may soon be able to optimize situations in ways that are at least marginally different, and probably significantly different, from how humans would optimize them. But at that point, will AI be able to explain, in a way that humans can understand, why its actions are optimal? Or will AI’s decision making surpass the explanatory powers of human language and reason? Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them—in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology. The most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed is this: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them?
How is consciousness to be defined in a world of machines that reduce human experience to mathematical data, interpreted by their own memories? Who is responsible for the actions of AI? How should liability be determined for their mistakes? Can a legal system designed by humans keep pace with activities produced by an AI capable of outthinking and potentially outmaneuvering them?
Ultimately, the term artificial intelligence may be a misnomer. To be sure, these machines can solve complex, seemingly abstract problems that had previously yielded only to human cognition. But what they do uniquely is not thinking as heretofore conceived and experienced. Rather, it is unprecedented memorization and computation. Because of its inherent superiority in these fields, AI is likely to win any game assigned to it. But for our purposes as humans, the games are not only about winning; they are about thinking. By treating a mathematical process as if it were a thought process, and either trying to mimic that process ourselves or merely accepting the results, we are in danger of losing the capacity that has been the essence of human cognition.
The implications of this evolution are shown by a recently designed program, AlphaZero, which plays chess at a level superior to chess masters and in a style not previously seen in chess history. On its own, in just a few hours of self-play, it achieved a level of skill that took human beings 1,500 years to attain. Only the basic rules of the game were provided to AlphaZero. Neither human beings nor human-generated data were part of its process of self-learning. If AlphaZero was able to achieve this mastery so rapidly, where will AI be in five years? What will be the impact on human cognition generally? What is the role of ethics in this process, which consists in essence of the acceleration of choices?
Typically, these questions are left to technologists and to the intelligentsia of related scientific fields. Philosophers and others in the field of the humanities who helped shape previous concepts of world order tend to be disadvantaged, lacking knowledge of AI’s mechanisms or being overawed by its capacities. In contrast, the scientific world is impelled to explore the technical possibilities of its achievements, and the technological world is preoccupied with commercial vistas of fabulous scale. The incentive of both these worlds is to push the limits of discoveries rather than to comprehend them. And governance, insofar as it deals with the subject, is more likely to investigate AI’s applications for security and intelligence than to explore the transformation of the human condition that it has begun to produce.
The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy. Other countries have made AI a major national project. The United States has not yet, as a nation, systematically explored its full scope, studied its implications, or begun the process of ultimate learning. This should be given a high national priority, above all, from the point of view of relating AI to humanistic traditions.
AI developers, as inexperienced in politics and philosophy as I am in technology, should ask themselves some of the questions I have raised here in order to build answers into their engineering efforts. The U.S. government should consider a presidential commission of eminent thinkers to help develop a national vision. This much is certain: If we do not start this effort soon, before long we shall discover that we started too late.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

JDN 1-18, "Strategy." 25 Apr 18

This is apparently a new publication. I just saw it for the first time today on the SAMS planners net.  The 47 page publication can be downloaded here. http://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/jdn_jg/jdn1_18.pdf?ver=2018-04-25-150439-540

I do not recall ever seeing a single joint publication focused solely on Strategy in joint doctrine.

I think the author must have been a National War College graduate or faculty member.

I think this will be useful not only for PME but also in civilian institutions that focus on security studies and strategy.

Note that I have excerpted the definitions of interests below.

Key chapter quotes:

Chapter I Theory
“Without a strategy, facing up to any problem or striving for any objective would be considered negligent.” Sir Lawrence Freedman Strategy: A History

Chapter II Strategic Ends and Means
“The most fundamental task in devising a grand strategy is to determine a nation’s national interests. Once they are identified, they drive a nation’s foreign policy and military strategy; they determine the basic direction that it takes, the types and amounts of resources that it needs, and the manner in which the state must employ them to succeed. Because of the critical role that national interests play, they must be carefully justified, not merely assumed.” Robert J. Art, A Grand Strategy for America 

Chapter III Strategic Ways
“The most complete and happy victory is this: to compel one’s enemy to give up his purpose, while suffering no harm oneself.” Flavius Belisarius (505-565) 

Chapter IV Assessing Strategy
“No plan of operation extends with certainty beyond contact with the enemy’s main hostile force.” Field Marshal General Helmuth von Moltke the Elder Chief of the German General Staff (1857-1888) 


JDN 1-18, "Strategy." 25 Apr 18



This joint doctrine note (JDN) provides guidance to develop, implement strategy, and
assess strategy. It focuses on the development of national-level military strategy and how
the military instrument of power is used, in combination with the other instruments of
national power, in pursuit of policy objectives. It discusses the essential elements of any
strategy; the relationship of ends, ways, and means; and the interaction among strategic
objectives, national strategy, and military strategy. It also examines strategies that may be
developed in different situations. Finally, it looks at how strategy is made, who makes it,
what moral criteria guide strategic decisions, and what pitfalls may occur in the making of
strategy.


One approach is to categorize national interests as vital, important, and peripheral. 

 Vital interests: What are we willing to die for? States generally have four vital interests: security of the home territory, safety of citizens at home and abroad, economic prosperity, and preservation of the national way of life. 

 Important interests: What are we willing to fight for? Nations important interests generally include freedom of access to the global commons, regional stability, secure alliances, or the promotion of the state’s values. 

 Peripheral interests: What are we willing to fund (deploy peacekeepers, balance trade deficits)?

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