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Thread: Some Things Never Change

  1. #21
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    I trash my copies of Machiavelli, du Picq, Freddy The Great, Musashi, Herodotus, Maurice of Nassau, Tacticus, Vauban, Thucydides, Vegetius, Xenophon...
    You read Vauban? I am seriously impressed. What works? I can't find any of his work in English or recently and affordably published. He's is the uber-dog of Military Thought codification - something I aspire to!

    I would also add FOCH, - a brilliant a very misunderstood man.
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    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
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    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post

    I draw the line at getting rid of my 1st Edition copy of Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon. Toted that beast around too many places to part with it. Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent.
    The only thing that keeps this from being my favorite book ever is the fact that it's a two-man lift.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  3. #23
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default I only have ...

    A Manual of Siegecraft and Fortification which I picked up at a library book sale pretty cheap in Yuma, AZ. The Vauban Fortifications of France by Paddy Griffin, a recent addition to Osprey's Fortress series, is a pretty good adjunct to it.

    Foch doesn't really fit into the Viscount de Turenne's admonition of our general's lacking an appreciation for the study of pre-twentieth century warfare.

    I would like to get a hold of his work. It is tough to get English versions of French strategic thinkers of the early 20th Century and my abysmal French doesn't lend itself to serious reading in it. I recently finished Paths of Glory: The French Army 1914-18 by Clayton and Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War by Doughty.

    @CR6: My copy has a special place in my heart since several pages (the chapter on Rivoli and the spine) still show the effects from having been read under a leaky poncho, in the rain, on a hillside near Yechon, then dropped when I slipped on the way back to my hooch.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

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    Default Free Foch & Vauban

    are available at Google Books: Foch search; and Vauban search.

    Just downloaded OK Foch's Principles, his Precepts and Judgments (both in Eng) and the 1906 Principles in French.

    The Vauban books are all in French - sorry, Wilf.

  5. #25
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    Default Bibliophiles activate...

    I have no financial interests in, and am not associated in any way with this website, but I have received excellent customer service from them and note that they carry many neat books to include St. Carl in German for Wilf, Vauban for Umar Al-Mokhtār, and...

    Biblio.com
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  6. #26
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    A Manual of Siegecraft and Fortification which I picked up at a library book sale pretty cheap in Yuma, AZ. The Vauban Fortifications of France by Paddy Griffin, a recent addition to Osprey's Fortress series, is a pretty good adjunct to it.
    I owe you a Schwarma and a beer, if you get your ass the Tel Aviv!
    I know Paddy. Didn't know he'd written about Vauban.
    Foch doesn't really fit into the Viscount de Turenne's admonition of our general's lacking an appreciation for the study of pre-twentieth century warfare.

    I would like to get a hold of his work. It is tough to get English versions of French strategic thinkers of the early 20th Century and my abysmal French doesn't lend itself to serious reading in it. I recently finished Paths of Glory: The French Army 1914-18 by Clayton and Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War by Doughty.
    Foch is very poorly understood in my opinion, thanks to some very sloppy military history. I have the 1918 edition of "Principles," in English.

    A lot of the statements are of dubious merit, but within that, he is talking about a lot of stuff that we assume the Manoeuvre Warfare lobby invented. If you believe in something called Manoeuvre Warfare, then Foch was a believer and advocated as early as 1903. Moreover he clearly understands how armies work, in a way not clearly or usefully written about today.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Speaking of technology and it's impact on war. I'm looking at my bookshelf and one of the books is "The Utility of Force" by GEN Rupert Smith. He points out that the two weapons that kill more people than any other, in spite of our technological and social progress, are the AK and the machete. I would add that another common strategy or tactic - depending on how you classify it - is rape. And forced conscription is still common, including children (so I guess our personnel system could actually be worse ).

    Quote Originally Posted by CR6 View Post
    The only thing that keeps this from being my favorite book ever is the fact that it's a two-man lift.
    That quote just brought back a bad memory. When I was an XO, I was the survey officer for a report of survey that was so large, so outrageous, had so many exhibits, and so much other related paperwork, that took so long to process, that we did not even call it by its document number. It was known throughout the battalion S-4 shop as the "two-man lift Report of Survey." Many trees gave their lives to finalize that nutroll. I actually dedicated one USB stick solely to that headache. And when the ordeal ended, I was only able to get one month's pay from the clown responsible for it all.

  8. #28
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Speaking of technology and it's impact on war. I'm looking at my bookshelf and one of the books is "The Utility of Force" by GEN Rupert Smith. He points out that the two weapons that kill more people than any other, in spite of our technological and social progress, are the AK and the machete. I would add that another common strategy or tactic - depending on how you classify it - is rape. And forced conscription is still common, including children (so I guess our personnel system could actually be worse ).
    The General is right about the Machete and the AK, but a great deal of that book fails the "So what" test. Once you boil it all down, you are not left with much, and almost everything he says was said by other authors in last 25 years.
    Now, he is a very good General, jolly nice chap, and friend of several friends of mine, but had the book not been written by him, it is very doubtful we would be discussing it.
    I am not quite sure how rape has a political or military dimension. What's the premise of it being a strategy?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  9. #29
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Vauban in English

    (From a non-SWJ friend)The only books in English I have are all on fortifications and sieges – Abel Swall’s 1702 translation, Rothrock’s Manual of A Siegecraft and Fortification and Blomfield’s biography.

    Rothrock’s translation is the nearest I have which has some of Vauban’s military philosophy and codification in it; I found it second hand on the internet at $65, 2 years ago. There are tonight two copies on Abebooks at $60 and $78.


    There are numerous books on fortification, in English, that include Vauban and of course there is a Vauban society, in France. Perhaps some of our French members can help too.

    Hope this helps.

    davidbfpo

  10. #30
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default Wilf, your offer...

    is very, very, very tempting.

    My short visit to Haifa over a quarter of a century now past was delightful.

    Now if I only had the money and the time...
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  11. #31
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Wilf,

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I am not quite sure how rape has a political or military dimension. What's the premise of it being a strategy?
    Really, it's more of a tactic that has strategic implications (like terrorism ). In many cultures, "rape" is considered to be the woman's fault, and serves to a) cut her off from her support network while, at the same time, b) shaming / dishonouring her male relatives ("'real' men can protect their women!"). As such, it doubly weakens a targeted population.

    In other societies, it has been used as part of an ideological program of "forced eugenics". While it has similar effects, it also totally disturbs the cultural birth-spacing and drains resources while, at the same time, ensuring a "future generation" that will be at odds with the parental generation; a social destabilizing influence.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Wilf / Marc,

    Marc's response is basically what I had in mind. As for why this is "strategic," I was thinking that this generally occurs in countries that don't have a planned parenthood on every corner. If the rape victims are impregnated, then they are probably going to carry the child to term. Pregnant women require more food and medical care, have the risk of complications or death, have less energy, et cetera. It is a drain on resources, in instills terror and emotional distress that could be debilitating to a society for long after it occurs, or instills terror far greater than simply the fear of attack, and it has the "eugenics" effect that Marc mentioned. (Kind of like in Braveheart: "The problem with Scotland is that it is full of Scots").

    I'm not a strategist. Do those qualify as strategic considerations?

  13. #33
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hi Wilf,



    Really, it's more of a tactic that has strategic implications (like terrorism ). In many cultures, "rape" is considered to be the woman's fault, and serves to a) cut her off from her support network while, at the same time, b) shaming / dishonouring her male relatives ("'real' men can protect their women!"). As such, it doubly weakens a targeted population.

    In other societies, it has been used as part of an ideological program of "forced eugenics". While it has similar effects, it also totally disturbs the cultural birth-spacing and drains resources while, at the same time, ensuring a "future generation" that will be at odds with the parental generation; a social destabilizing influence.
    In Rwanda, the former government's minister of women and families--a woman--organized the rape campaign as a tool to break whatever spirit was left in the Tutsi community as they were slaughtered. She actually led rape teams in the streets. Later she was the first woman convicted of crimes against humanity. The aftermath of that rape campaign is still unfolding as victims and their children die of AIDS

    That program of rape morphed in the Congo where social norms already allowed male dominance and sexual mores tied to that dominance allowed men to demand sex at will. As the Congo war spiraled into a mix of militias and proxies, the rape phenomenon spread and now includes predatory sex against children under age 10 in some recorded cases as young as four.

    Tom

  14. #34
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    In Rwanda, the former government's minister of women and families--a woman--organized the rape campaign as a tool to break whatever spirit was left in the Tutsi community as they were slaughtered. She actually led rape teams in the streets. Later she was the first woman convicted of crimes against humanity. The aftermath of that rape campaign is still unfolding as victims and their children die of AIDS
    Tom, that is extremely interesting and gives some indications as to how some societies view the political dimension of violence.

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Really, it's more of a tactic that has strategic implications (like terrorism ). In many cultures, "rape" is considered to be the woman's fault, and serves to a) cut her off from her support network while, at the same time, b) shaming / dishonouring her male relatives ("'real' men can protect their women!"). As such, it doubly weakens a targeted population.
    While not excusing the depravity of this, all tactics should have a relationship to the political aims, so I see your point. Rape is violence and thus violence can be applied to in pursuit of political aims.

    Based on that sad fact, rape makes far more sense than "economic" or "cyber" warfare, both of which lack violence as a component. This would also clarify the difference between "warfare" and "strategy."

    Good stuff guys. Thanks.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  15. #35
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Wilf,

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Based on that sad fact, rape makes far more sense than "economic" or "cyber" warfare, both of which lack violence as a component. This would also clarify the difference between "warfare" and "strategy."
    I've been spending a lot of time over the past year or so thinking about conceptualizations of "violence", motivations for different types, etc. One of the models I'm trying to put together concerns the emergence of differing conventions (in the very broad sense) in situations of rapid environmental change (and by that I mean, physical, economic, social, cultural, etc. environments). What is really striking me as I try and untangle all the stuff I'm looking at is that for the past 10-12,000 years or so, we have really done ourselves a disservice (i.e. shot ourselves in the foot if not higher).

    One thing that really stands out for me is how we have parsed the concept of "conflict" and "conflict resolution". Violence in the physical/kinetic sense is, to my mind, only one form of conflict / conflict resolution. If we go back to basic motivations for conflict, most of them seem, to me at least, to break down into one person/group trying access "scarce" resources and the consequent "power" that control over those resources represents and, once they gain control over them, trying to maintain that control.

    The question of how you get (and maintain) this control, then, flips over into the development of "conventions" that limit the destructiveness of the inter-socially accepted tactics used; i.e. it develops "conventions". Sahlins talks about this a bit in Stone Age Economics in reference to really "early" social forms, but there are a lot of more modern example. These conventions, in turn, rely on a fairly stable set of environments and, if they are going to survive, they have to limit the destruction they accept to the carrying capacity of those semi-stable environments. In some cases, there may even be "positive" (at the group / population level) outcomes associated with a particular set of conventions.

    But, while all of the seperate "conventions" may be structurally similar (in the sense of structural relationships), there are always specific differences. Even trickier that one of those structural regularities appears to be related to the "carrying capacity" of key environmental sectors. When this is coupled in with conflicts between different "conventions" adapted for different environments, things can get pretty wonky.

    Let me go back to the rape example. Most cultures have some form of control over what's called "birth spacing"; i.e. how much time there is between pregancies. In fairly stable environments, this ends up being a fairly simply predator-prey model (even if the "prey" is vegetables ) where the population fluctuates in response to food availability. When you get too much population, you usually find the appearance of population "sinks" including warfare, (cf. Henri Pirenne on the Crusades), disease (look at the death rates in medieval and Rennaisance cities), etc. It's the "Too many rats in the box, Jordy" phenomenon.

    So, when you have a conflict between groups which are pretty finely balanced in terms of population carrying capacity, rape makes for a really good way to destabilize your opponents by forcing them to expend resources either in terms of child care / raising or in terms of fertile women. The former reduces the amount of resources your opponent can expend on a per capita basis, while the latter reduces your productive population base, and both have significant psychological impaqcts (read neuroses) on the target populations, which further reduces their ability to resist your attempts to gain / maintain control over resources.

    When we get to the "competing conventions" point, things get even worse. Cultures can adapt to a convention of mutual rape as a weapon (there are certainly enough examples of this historically and, as Tom was mentioning, it seems to be gaining ground as a convention in the Congo). Where the really tricky part comes in is when the conventions developed around totally different "environments". For example, the original "command economies" - the Sumerian city states, not the Soviets - had a totally different set of conventions from both the mountain tribes and the desert tribes they had to deal with (Iraq is still dealing with this!).

    It's this "competing conventions" point that, I think, underlies a lot of our current (and past!) problems. At the same time, I would suggest that the conventions define what is perceived as a battlespace which, in turn, influences the resources aimed for, the tactics chosen, and, in effect, the entire stratgic "plan". Rob and I have talked a bit about this, and it is behind a lot of my comments on, for example, SFA planning and design. Now, I'm certainly not saying that violent, kinetic conflict doesn't takes place - that would be nuts! However, what I am saying is that the tactics and strategies of conflict will depend on the conventions of the combatants which, in turn, depends on what resources they see as core.

    Let me take an organizational example for a minute. Fairly "classic", post-War compromise bureaucratic organizations (aka "Taylorist" or "Fordist" in a lot of the literature) identify bodies with limited skills as the core "resource", extended by specific technology. In military terms, think Industrial Age armies from William the Silent to ~1980's / 90's (FCS is sort of the last gasp of this thinking). Compare this with, for example, the hight tech, "project-based" type of organization that really starts appearing in the 1970's-80's where the core "resource" is the ability to think (Hezbolah in 2006 is one form of this, the rise of PMC's another, while AQ's current concentration as a PR/Propaganda group is a third). In this case, "bodies" can be "outsourced" by manipulating your "opponent" into creating them (cf Kilcullen's concept of accidental guerrilas as one form, while the PMC's hiring of US vets is another [minimal training cost]).

    You know, all of this is a roundabout way of getting back to your comment about economic and cyber warfare . Economic warfare has been the hallmark of the Industrial Age from ca. 1570 or so until the 1980's - the core resources have been physical, material parts of "reality" (land, coal, iron, petroleum, etc.), and our economies have expanded to require them (and, and important point, our populations as well).

    But there is one major problem with Industrial Age organizations - they are "soulless" and just don't give people much sense of "meaning" in existential terms. Most people, at least in the West, are just tired of the "Grand Narratives" - my guess as to why is that we have had our noses rubbed in the hypocrisy of the institutions responsible for them too often (I suspect that we see a similar reaction in the Middle East and Africa in response to the Grand Narratives of nationalism, industrialization, "development", etc.).

    As a side note, but illustrative of this, I was listening to Tom Barnett last year as he was talking about where conflicts would be happening over the next century as part of the march of glabalization. At one point, I leaned over to the MG sitting next to me and murmered "doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy that we'll be fighting to guarentee corporate profits?" I thought he would crack up out loud, but he just snorted and whispered back something cynical, the content of which, I suspect Tom would approve of.

    Back on topic (sheesh I'm rambling!)....

    As I was saying, economic warfare has been a hallmark of the Industrial Age, and Cyber-warfare, at least in the sense of hacking / cracking, interceptions, spying, manipulation of electronic economic systems, etc. is just an extension of the Industrial Age thinking about spying and economic warfare. What we are seeing with AQ and many other extremist groups is a totally different battlespace - they are aiming at our "souls"; our sense of meaning.

    You know, I think I had better stop now before I ramble on even more .
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  16. #36
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default But what about us areligious types with no souls...

    I'd agree that most conflicts were over resources but there are some that are simply about power. Much else to agree with in that Post. A lot, however, seems to have little bearing on rape as a weapon.

    This is interesting, however:
    "At one point, I leaned over to the MG sitting next to me and murmered "doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy that we'll be fighting to guarentee corporate profits?" I thought he would crack up out loud, but he just snorted and whispered back something cynical, the content of which, I suspect Tom would approve of."
    Well, given the option of fighting for corporate profits -- the essential driver of British and US fighting for a great many years -- and the other options; religion, ideology for a couple of examples, I think the corporate profit bit has done more good and less harm by most measures. FWIW, I disagree with Barnett on many things and the 'fact' that there will be these wars and the Gap will be problematical are among them. Pundits -- and he has regressed to that -- will usually get as much wrong as they get right and basing anything of substance on a 50 percent solution doesn't seem smart to me..

    In any event, I'm unsure of the "why say that" factor for your comment -- as for the Major General, I've met some smart ones. Met some who weren't as well...

    Long way of saying that fighting for corporate interests has been broadly successful and beneficial to most of the world, whereas the ideological and / or religiously fervent types who aim for our souls -- not so much. They have no staying power when the initiating generation dies.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Ken,

    Well, I'll admit I tend to use theological terms for a lot of things that aren't necessarily theological per se; bad habit I picked up, I'll admit, but I tend to think its better to say "souls" than something like "the inanate, existential drive shared by all members of the species to 'belong', to believe that their lives serve some purpose and hold some mean".... "Souls" is just more parsimonious .

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'd agree that most conflicts were over resources but there are some that are simply about power. Much else to agree with in that Post. A lot, however, seems to have little bearing on rape as a weapon.
    True, I'm afraid my brain goes into these "moments" every now and again . BTW, I would argue that "power" is just another way of saying "resources", especially if we are using the Galbraith forms of power.

    If we go back to the earliest indicators of organized conflict of the kinetic variety (sheesh, I'm sounding like an academic again!) - okay, "warfare" - it seems to have been based around raiding with particular resources, including women, as a key goal. Given that a lot of groups were pretty small in terms of numbers, that actually does make sense at the population genertics level.

    As for the rest having little bearing, okay, you're right - my mind was "theorizing" again....

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Well, given the option of fighting for corporate profits -- the essential driver of British and US fighting for a great many years -- and the other options; religion, ideology for a couple of examples, I think the corporate profit bit has done more good and less harm by most measures.
    On the whole, and taking a really long view, I would tend to agree, especially if we define the Good as "the increase of individual potentiality". Certainly it was a major driver in most of the Industrial Age wars from the Dutch revolt through to the modern era. Where I think the divergence is happening is in where those corporations are based, which is increasingly internationally rather than within the boundaries of a nation state (yeah, I know, that's being going on for quite a while now, but it is getting more spread out). So, for example, fighting a proxy war for the British East India Company in China directly benefited Britain and, to a lesser degree, India. Is the same true today? I really have to wonder...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    FWIW, I disagree with Barnett on many things and the 'fact' that there will be these wars and the Gap will be problematical are among them.
    I think that it is a "plausible" scenario, but that many of the grounds of his underlying assumptions are becoming increasingly divorced from reality. For one thing, it is all predicated on the current energy regime, and that may well be blown out of the water in the next 5-10 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    In any event, I'm unsure of the "why say that" factor for your comment -- as for the Major General, I've met some smart ones. Met some who weren't as well...
    Ahhh, sorry, being way too cryptic - it was the paradox of trying to motivate people to fight for something that wouldn't benefit them directly and for an interest group that is increasingly getting a bad public odour. I mean, seriously, how would you motivate a group of soldiers to fight for Madoff ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Long way of saying that fighting for corporate interests has been broadly successful and beneficial to most of the world, whereas the ideological and / or religiously fervent types who aim for our souls -- not so much. They have no staying power when the initiating generation dies.
    Oh, I think we'll have to disagree on that - I think they have a remarkably consistent staying power. Then again, I think their main motivation is based on gaining ego-centric control of power structures and a totally psychotic joys in telling people what to do "or else" .
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    http://marctyrrell.com/

  18. #38
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hi Wilf,



    I've been spending a lot of time over the past year or so thinking about conceptualizations of "violence", motivations for different types, etc. One of the models I'm trying to put together concerns the emergence of differing conventions (in the very broad sense) in situations of rapid environmental change (and by that I mean, physical, economic, social, cultural, etc. environments). What is really striking me as I try and untangle all the stuff I'm looking at is that for the past 10-12,000 years or so, we have really done ourselves a disservice (i.e. shot ourselves in the foot if not higher).

    One thing that really stands out for me is how we have parsed the concept of "conflict" and "conflict resolution". Violence in the physical/kinetic sense is, to my mind, only one form of conflict / conflict resolution. If we go back to basic motivations for conflict, most of them seem, to me at least, to break down into one person/group trying access "scarce" resources and the consequent "power" that control over those resources represents and, once they gain control over them, trying to maintain that control.

    The question of how you get (and maintain) this control, then, flips over into the development of "conventions" that limit the destructiveness of the inter-socially accepted tactics used; i.e. it develops "conventions". Sahlins talks about this a bit in Stone Age Economics in reference to really "early" social forms, but there are a lot of more modern example. These conventions, in turn, rely on a fairly stable set of environments and, if they are going to survive, they have to limit the destruction they accept to the carrying capacity of those semi-stable environments. In some cases, there may even be "positive" (at the group / population level) outcomes associated with a particular set of conventions.

    But, while all of the seperate "conventions" may be structurally similar (in the sense of structural relationships), there are always specific differences. Even trickier that one of those structural regularities appears to be related to the "carrying capacity" of key environmental sectors. When this is coupled in with conflicts between different "conventions" adapted for different environments, things can get pretty wonky.

    Let me go back to the rape example. Most cultures have some form of control over what's called "birth spacing"; i.e. how much time there is between pregancies. In fairly stable environments, this ends up being a fairly simply predator-prey model (even if the "prey" is vegetables ) where the population fluctuates in response to food availability. When you get too much population, you usually find the appearance of population "sinks" including warfare, (cf. Henri Pirenne on the Crusades), disease (look at the death rates in medieval and Rennaisance cities), etc. It's the "Too many rats in the box, Jordy" phenomenon.

    So, when you have a conflict between groups which are pretty finely balanced in terms of population carrying capacity, rape makes for a really good way to destabilize your opponents by forcing them to expend resources either in terms of child care / raising or in terms of fertile women. The former reduces the amount of resources your opponent can expend on a per capita basis, while the latter reduces your productive population base, and both have significant psychological impaqcts (read neuroses) on the target populations, which further reduces their ability to resist your attempts to gain / maintain control over resources.

    When we get to the "competing conventions" point, things get even worse. Cultures can adapt to a convention of mutual rape as a weapon (there are certainly enough examples of this historically and, as Tom was mentioning, it seems to be gaining ground as a convention in the Congo). Where the really tricky part comes in is when the conventions developed around totally different "environments". For example, the original "command economies" - the Sumerian city states, not the Soviets - had a totally different set of conventions from both the mountain tribes and the desert tribes they had to deal with (Iraq is still dealing with this!).

    It's this "competing conventions" point that, I think, underlies a lot of our current (and past!) problems. At the same time, I would suggest that the conventions define what is perceived as a battlespace which, in turn, influences the resources aimed for, the tactics chosen, and, in effect, the entire stratgic "plan". Rob and I have talked a bit about this, and it is behind a lot of my comments on, for example, SFA planning and design. Now, I'm certainly not saying that violent, kinetic conflict doesn't takes place - that would be nuts! However, what I am saying is that the tactics and strategies of conflict will depend on the conventions of the combatants which, in turn, depends on what resources they see as core.

    Let me take an organizational example for a minute. Fairly "classic", post-War compromise bureaucratic organizations (aka "Taylorist" or "Fordist" in a lot of the literature) identify bodies with limited skills as the core "resource", extended by specific technology. In military terms, think Industrial Age armies from William the Silent to ~1980's / 90's (FCS is sort of the last gasp of this thinking). Compare this with, for example, the hight tech, "project-based" type of organization that really starts appearing in the 1970's-80's where the core "resource" is the ability to think (Hezbolah in 2006 is one form of this, the rise of PMC's another, while AQ's current concentration as a PR/Propaganda group is a third). In this case, "bodies" can be "outsourced" by manipulating your "opponent" into creating them (cf Kilcullen's concept of accidental guerrilas as one form, while the PMC's hiring of US vets is another [minimal training cost]).

    You know, all of this is a roundabout way of getting back to your comment about economic and cyber warfare . Economic warfare has been the hallmark of the Industrial Age from ca. 1570 or so until the 1980's - the core resources have been physical, material parts of "reality" (land, coal, iron, petroleum, etc.), and our economies have expanded to require them (and, and important point, our populations as well).

    But there is one major problem with Industrial Age organizations - they are "soulless" and just don't give people much sense of "meaning" in existential terms. Most people, at least in the West, are just tired of the "Grand Narratives" - my guess as to why is that we have had our noses rubbed in the hypocrisy of the institutions responsible for them too often (I suspect that we see a similar reaction in the Middle East and Africa in response to the Grand Narratives of nationalism, industrialization, "development", etc.).

    As a side note, but illustrative of this, I was listening to Tom Barnett last year as he was talking about where conflicts would be happening over the next century as part of the march of glabalization. At one point, I leaned over to the MG sitting next to me and murmered "doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy that we'll be fighting to guarentee corporate profits?" I thought he would crack up out loud, but he just snorted and whispered back something cynical, the content of which, I suspect Tom would approve of.

    Back on topic (sheesh I'm rambling!)....

    As I was saying, economic warfare has been a hallmark of the Industrial Age, and Cyber-warfare, at least in the sense of hacking / cracking, interceptions, spying, manipulation of electronic economic systems, etc. is just an extension of the Industrial Age thinking about spying and economic warfare. What we are seeing with AQ and many other extremist groups is a totally different battlespace - they are aiming at our "souls"; our sense of meaning.

    You know, I think I had better stop now before I ramble on even more .
    That is some outstanding stuff Marct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Long way of saying that fighting for corporate interests has been broadly successful and beneficial to most of the world, whereas the ideological and / or religiously fervent types who aim for our souls -- not so much. They have no staying power when the initiating generation dies.
    Well now, there's no reason we can't do both at the same time, is there?
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    True, I'm afraid my brain goes into these "moments" every now and again . BTW, I would argue that "power" is just another way of saying "resources", especially if we are using the Galbraith forms of power.
    Not a Galbraith fan, either. So I was not; you of course, may do so...
    So, for example, fighting a proxy war for the British East India Company in China directly benefited Britain and, to a lesser degree, India. Is the same true today? I really have to wonder...
    Understandable. The wondering, I mean. Still, all things considered it's better than the alternatives. If the system over reaches -- as it has -- it gets corrected, usually (Though we are not doing a great job thus far; but that's another Thread).
    Ahhh, sorry, being way too cryptic - it was the paradox of trying to motivate people to fight for something that wouldn't benefit them directly and for an interest group that is increasingly getting a bad public odour. I mean, seriously, how would you motivate a group of soldiers to fight for Madoff ?
    It wasn't cryptic. Not at all. Most people do not and generally will not fight for something that benefits them directly. The answer to your final question is that Madoff is totally irrelevant to why soldiers fight.
    Oh, I think we'll have to disagree on that - I think they have a remarkably consistent staying power. Then again, I think their main motivation is based on gaining ego-centric control of power structures and a totally psychotic joys in telling people what to do "or else" .
    We can disagree. Glad to see you endorse 'power' in a non-Galbraithian sense.

    I won't be around long enough when they sputter and die out to say "I told you so" so you can consider it said now and hang on to it for less than 20 years from today.
    Last edited by Ken White; 05-31-2009 at 10:21 PM.

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