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From Tyler Cowan’s notes on meeting Bill Gates:

10. Gates understands the very high returns from better governance, but also sees it is not trivial to reap them.

Seeing this, I thought the Onion or Scrappleface had bought space on the ABC’s site.  I’d imagine Gareth would be miffed.

When Obama gets around to moving past the ‘offering hope’ phase and into the change, he could start here and here.

Twelve submarines are going to be awfully difficult to man, even if we start now identifying those kids who hide in cupboards at pre-school and sign them up for a submariner career track.

If we’re just using subs for surveillance, then by virtue of Moore’s Law, these could well offer a viable alternative, particularly if deployed in schools (the swarming sort).

And who knows, by 2030, we could equip them with offensive weapons, too.

This needs to be printed and posted in every government department and agency in Canberra—and in Parliament House.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the transformation of the military is less to do with hardware, and terms such as ‘jointness’ or ‘multidimensional manoeuvre’, but about social and organisational structures.

And that includes the role of women in the military:

But the Iraq insurgency obliterated conventional battle lines. The fight was on every base and street corner, and as the conflict grew longer and more complicated, the all-volunteer military required more soldiers and a different approach to fighting. Commanders were forced to stretch gender boundaries, or in a few cases, erase them altogether.

Perhaps the status, command and roles undertaken by women can be used as one indicator of the evolution of Western militaries beyond the traditional, conventional, Napoleonic paradigm—and even of willingness to engage in the heavy lifting of counter-insurgency.

Brought up as an old-school Army warrior, Mr. Baumann said he had seriously doubted that women could physically handle infantry duties, citing the weight of the armor and the gear, the heat of Baghdad and the harshness of combat.

“I found out differently,” said Mr. Baumann, now chief financial officer for St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota. “Not only could they handle it, but in the same way as males. I would go out on patrols every single day with my battalion. I was with them. I was next to them. I saw with my own eyes. I had full trust and confidence in their abilities.”

Mr. Baumann’s experience rings true to many men who have commanded women in Iraq. More than anything, it is seeing women perform under fire that has changed attitudes.

These are not lessons easily learned, or transformation understood, by militaries that carefully constrain their involvement in such engagements.

There is something a tad worrying about this:

Senator Faulkner said he had spoken to his good mates, the former Labor defence ministers, Robert Ray and Kim Beazley, about the new job.

He said he rang Mr Ray for a chat and Mr Beazley rang him, five times.

Central Asia remains a strategic crux, where key contests are played out.  Fouad Ajami:

In the 1980s, Pakistan led to Afghanistan, and to the final battle of the Cold War. Nowadays, the struggle in Afghanistan leads back to Pakistan, and for a battle on behalf of Muslim modernity.

We should be thankful such battles are not closer to home while realising their importance to our own future and so play a part.

Some general advice and lessons learned (alas, not by me, though they make uncommonly good sense):

So much fun.  Even the error messages are cool:

I'm sorry Dave

Here’s couple of ideas to help drive down capability costs.  First, low intensity warfare and constabulary operations:

And the latest in submersibles–only $US1.5m each:

Imagine how many of those could be bought for $200bn.  Or more importantly, how many could be bought by non-state actors.

August 2020