So, this is what 50 miles looks like ~ a very squinty eyed, salt stained expression of semi-agony. It took about 3 hours for the blood to come back to my arms and hands, as it had become fairly settled in my legs over the past 7 hours and 43 minutes.
My profession as a military officer and as an extension of that, a strategist, has been fulfilled by a holiday trip down to Lake Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island. My wife Rachel, daughter Grace and I were hiking along the Glendhu Bay Track adjacent to Lake Wanaka (about 5 minutes drive from the town of Wanaka) when Rachel spotted two Black Swans in the water. The pictures we took don’t do them justice, as they were acquired via iPhone camera. Make no mistake, they were beautiful, and we had a better view than available at left.
In March, President Obama outlined his policy goals for the violence in Libya. He began by discussing the context:
In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Gadhafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.
He then assessed the “important” American strategic interest in preventing Gadhafi from killing those who oppose him:
A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful — yet fragile — transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.
On Saturday (Friday in the US), I’ll be running a 50 Miler as part of the Great Naseby Water Race. It will be a very small field ~ probably only 40 people spread across the 100k, 80k (50 mile), and 60k events. It will be miniscule compared to the event I’m accustomed to doing in late August, the TransRockies Run. Several hundred TransRockies competitors are treated like royalty from start to finish, and pay quite a bit of money for this catered service.
Dr. Joseph Nye of Harvard is one of the smartest international relations minds one can find today. He has his name stamped on “neoliberalism,” and has contributed to thought on different types of power. I recently listened to a podcast of Nye speaking at Duke University on 23 March 2010, the talk entitled “Soft Power and Obama’s Grand Strategy.” There were several take-aways I wanted to mark:
(2 mins.) “I see smart power as the ability to combine hard and soft power into successful strategies.”
P. 244: “With well over 200 million of its 240 million inhabitants Muslim, Indonesia represents one of Islam’s greatest proselytizing success stories. This is particularly remarkable because Islam came to Indonesia not through military conquest as it did almost everywhere else, from Iberia to the Indian Subcontinent, but, starting in Aceh in the Middle Ages, through seaborne Indian Ocean commerce.”
Reading books is a good thing; it is better to study important books. Robert Kaplan’s new book, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power, (Random House, NY: 2010) about what he perceives as the Indian Ocean’s central role in the future of geopolitics is a book to study. He makes a number of important points that I’d like to commit as lessons to draw upon in the future. As such, I’ll boil them down to five broad categories below:
“The Cold War forced an artificial dichotomy on area studies in which the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Pacific Rim were separate identities. But as India and China become more integrally connected with both Southeast Asia and the Middle East through trade, energy, and security agreements, the map of Asia is reemerging as a single organic unit, just as it was during earlier epochs in history–manifested now by an Indian Ocean map.” (p. 13)