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The Gupta Option

This article is an early stage draft. Please email me suggestions!


Things to Read or Do

State In A Box Overview which briefly outlines a radically new approach to SSTR based in distributed infrastructure and Jeffersonian ideals.

Winning the Long Peace - about extending the concept of the nation state to reflect the realities of current American policy.

STAR-TIDES and Starfish Networks: Supporting Stressed Populations with Distributed Talent - National Defense University, Defense Horizons 70, co-author

Soft Development Paths - Is there any way that everybody in the world can live reasonably well? Yes, but we need to work on the basics...

The Future of Poverty - how computers and networks give us new ways of knowing which may end poverty forever

STAR-TIDES briefing at National Defense University - one hour video plus supporting documents of the presentation I did about distributed infrastructure and the Hexayurt Project for NDU.

Severe Panflu Response Strategies - a really serious look at losing 25% of the human race in a single year, and what we can do about it.

STAR-TIDES - notes and boards from our demonstration at the Pentagon. Six ages of good stuff on infrastructure and resilience half way through. See the STAR-TIDES home page for context.

Hexayurt Project - my main activity, a free/open source disaster relief and emergency shelter system.

Networked Domestic Disaster Response - presents a well-reviewed plan for evacuating millions to tens of millions of American citizens in catastrophic emergencies.

Facilitating International Development through Free / Open Source - about changing the direction of international development by giving away free designs for great and useful technologies, like autorickshaws and water purifiers!

State In A Box - Identity Services Architecture - about re-engineering the nation state based on modern technology, starting with identity management. Includes extensive material on biometrics, OpenID, PKI and is fully buzzword compliant. It's the start on a book.

Our Future With Islam - about Islam as a religion, culture and political system, and long term prospects for peaceful co-existence without falling back on Mutually Assured Destruction.

Saving the World on the Cheap - about charities, governments, and the need for a new way to fund lifesaving engineering projects.

Resilience and Opportunity in 4GW - on decentralized infrastructure and microfinance as was of moderating 4GW conflicts.

Discuss at The Sietch Forums

My blog

State In A Box
a radical approach to SSTR

On the stability doctrine side, my proposal is a system called State In A Box (SIAB.) SIAB revolves around an analysis of what the essential functions of the State are, and a systematic approach to migrate power to the best level for each essential function.

Basically, in practice, this means three things.

1> Municipal functions - water, power generation - are pushed DOWN to the HOUSEHOLD level wherever possible. Solar panels, wind, water purifiers, composting toilets etc. That's the hexayurt for refugees, and an as-yet-unfinished Distributed Infrastructure Retrofit kit for single family homes. Larger buildings - govt. offices, schools, hospitals - become "citadels" which provide power etc. not just for themselves but for a small area around them and also network services (i.e. a large wifi cloud with a satellite uplink as a backup backhaul) creating little islands of stability around them, but still within a distributed infrastructure framework. This approach simplifies the creation of "protection bureaucracies" which have to guard infrastructure, and "service division bureaucracies" (like power companies) which ration who can use how much of a shared resource. We're unifying the owner, user and protector of infrastructure systems as a way of reducing the level of social complexity and stability required to get essential services restored.

2> State functions - identity databases which generate passports, issuing currency and so on for example - move UP to INTERNATIONAL level. The Big Horse in this race is the SIAB Identity Services Architecture, which is a genocide-resistant or genocide-proof international ID card standard which uses classical American separation-of-powers political thinking to keep the biometrics and biographical databases separated by a judge with an encryption key.


3> This leaves a greatly simplified State. We migrate power and, more importantly, responsibility up and down leaving a simplified State which is much more plausible to stand back up even in horribly unstable areas, and - for bonus points - we put computers into the equations as we solve them, possibly reducing the bureaucratic overheads of state function to about 3% of their current level. The resulting society is generally-speaking stabilized by the autonomy of its householders and institutions, rather than by vesting power in an already shaky state apparatus: with distributed infrastructure, a mistake at the government level cannot result in the electrical grid failing, because there is no grid. The lights stay on, regardless of what is happening at the Presidential Palace.

Resilience and Opportuniy - Effective Tools for Victory in Fourth Generation Wars? is a short (5 page, odd format) paper that I put online about two years ago that runs through the "Individual Marshall Plan" approach to SSTR / COIN - the idea that irregular forces demobilize one man at a time, and a job and some economic prospects are a key part of that.

The paper mentions an Iraq war spend of $200 billion. This was written some years ago. The figure is now closer to $3 trillion dollars, and the last figure I saw for insurgent kills in the news was 50,000 giving a cost of $60 million per insurgent kill. I believe that if even a small amount of that money was spent in creating alternative career paths for Iraqi youth it would be a much more effective way of taking fighters off the battlefield, and putting them behind the wheel of taxis, in pizza kitches, and in board rooms, where they belong.


The best piece I have seen on the virtues of that approach is "All You Need Is Love" which covers Yassir Arafat's individual level demobilization of Black September by semi-arranged marriage.


In general, I view the State as a vendor of services to the People that constitute it. SSTR is about getting essential services restored to individual humans. It is essentially humanitarian at a fundamental level, when done right. Distributed infrastructure and a decentralization of political power are keys to making SSTR work in the real world, particularly in areas (like much of Africa) which lack a sufficient economic base to finance the centralization of power while at the same time providing good services to their citizens in other areas.

I think, in general, the Jeffersonian model of relatively self-sufficient and highly educated gentleman farmers is about to re-run on a fairly colossal scale as the Internet arrives in the developing world significantly in advance of the toilet.

In terms of how the pieces might fit together at a policy level, consider "Winning the Long Peace" which envisages a "policy of containment" style grand strategy for addressing the threat of WMD-based asymmetric warfare based on building direct relationships between the USG and individuals all over the world: we help feed you, we help protect you, we pay for the basic science that improves your life... drop a dime if your crazy cousin is trying to build a nuke, please.