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Cloud Computing and The National Strategic Narrative

People in the IT Industry are Far, Far Ahead of Mr. Y

I read through "A National Strategic Narrative," a piece authored by two military officers and published under the guise of a certain "Mr. Y." The piece is meant to be a 21st-century book-end to a famous document authored by George Kennan in 1946 under the pseudonym "X."

Kennan was a long-serving diplomat who outlined the policy of Soviet "containment" in his article, thus providing a foundational strategy that apparently worked, in the long run, when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Mr. Y's article is meant to replace Kennan's containment with what the authors called "sustainment," an internally focused strategy they believe the United States should embrace to restore its place at the head of the world table of nations.

The authors urge its readers to move from an emphasis on power and control to one of strength and influence; they believe the US takes a current "defensive posture of exclusion," which they wish to move to "a proactive posture of engagement;" and they think the country should move away from zero-sum thinking if it is to "sustain our growth as a nation and to restore our credibility as a world leader."

My comments:

  • They could have used a proofreader. There's nothing egregiously wrong, just a couple of comical typos and much poor punctuation that was distracting to me, if not to every reader.

  • They don't like how the foreigner Rupert Murdoch has taken over much of what passes for political dialog in the US. They don't say so specifically, but their references to "anti-modernism" are references to creationists and the rest of the nonsensical babble that has been been given credence by some of Mr. Murdoch's products and services. I agree with them.

  • They don't want to the US to try to control the world anymore, but they do seem to think right-minded folks like themselves can control the Internet. They all but blame the Internet for the formation of extremist armies, and surmise that the Worldwide Web just might be the cause of a coming apocalypse. Wow.

  • They also think the Web is the most impactful development of the last 100 years. Really? More impactful than electricity? Penicillin? Polio vaccines? The automobile? The telephone? Television?

  • They throw out the Treaty of Westphalia in 1680 as a foundation for our modern thinking of nation-states, and that suddenly we have to change our thinking to a more borderless globe. Now, I'm a weirdo about The Thirty Years' War (which resulted in said Treaty), and heartily disagree. The real change didn't come until after World War I and the collapse of centuries-old empires. In any case, this point is not relevant. We've lived in a Global Village at least since Martin McLuhan pointed this out in the like, you know, Sixties.

  • Speaking of which, they've embraced modern concepts such as "diversity" and "tolerance" with all the definitionless enthusiasm of the most earnest young college freshman.

  • There's also some unexplained gobbledygook about "say-do" thinking and "binning." This is clearly Washington-speak with which us normal people are unacquainted. The gist of it, I think, is that we should not be quick to label people or groups of people.

I'll stop there. This document is profoundly disappointing in that it simply states a few obvious things-we need to be less paranoid about security, and educate our children better-with no ideas on how to achieve them. It takes a reactionist view of the Internet and Web that would have seemed outdated in Silicon Valley more than a decade ago.

It doesn't call for President Obama to close Gitmo and disband the TSA immediately. It doesn't say members of Congress should not have special health-care benefits, term limits, and an automatic death penalty whenever they say "...this great nation of ours." It doesn't list Oprah and morning "news" shows as fundamental elements of the dumbing down of America. It lists no ideas on how to fix a public-school system that has been inadequate for decades. At least I'm with them about old Rupert.

I speak to, and read the words of, so many serious, thoughtful people in the IT industry every day (many of whom we'll see at Cloud Expo in New York in June). Their thinking is far, far ahead of this document. They are moving on with the languages, environments, architectures, and tools that will build out the infrastructure of the new era of Cloud Computing.

I am sure that most industries have similar legions of the serious-minded. Would it be that some of these people were in Washington.

Please find and read this document, as it will be taken seriously by our friends in Washington. Let me know what you think.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.