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Old 11-17-2011   #101
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When a monkey hits a key and gets an electric shock in response, he's not going to repeat that often. He's not going to try to do it better often. (S)He'll finally settle with the understanding that this key is bad.


Could someone please tell my why humans have so much trouble learning that war isn't profitable and cannot really be done 'right', so it should be avoided unless forced on you?
It can't possibly be a lack of memory, for I see people discussing here in the general tone of 'do small wars right / wrong', and these people are still trembling due to recent electroshocks.
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Old 11-17-2011   #102
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Could someone please tell my why humans have so much trouble learning that war isn't profitable and cannot really be done 'right', so it should be avoided unless forced on you?
Egos...

"WE won't make those mistake..." they say as they go blindly forward.

And then they go ahead and perpetrate the same foolish errors

Last edited by Ken White; 11-17-2011 at 09:07 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 11-17-2011   #103
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When a monkey hits a key and gets an electric shock in response, he's not going to repeat that often. He's not going to try to do it better often. (S)He'll finally settle with the understanding that this key is bad.

Could someone please tell my why humans have so much trouble learning that war isn't profitable and cannot really be done 'right', so it should be avoided unless forced on you?
It can't possibly be a lack of memory, for I see people discussing here in the general tone of 'do small wars right / wrong', and these people are still trembling due to recent electroshocks.
What Ken said... plus all too often the monkeys hitting the keys aren't the ones getting the shocks, which messes up the feedback loop a bit.
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Old 11-17-2011   #104
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What Ken said... plus all too often the monkeys hitting the keys aren't the ones getting the shocks, which messes up the feedback loop a bit.
Ahhh, I've got something related to this:

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Recalls for peace?

Quick thought:

The U.S. Americans are practising a thing called "recall". Recently, a couple state senators were replaced by special elections that were triggered by petitions (that met a certain quantity requirement).

This made me think about something.

How about an automatic triggering of a special (potential recall) election for all federal politicians who supported military action without obvious self-defence character (= repelling an invading army, defending in air war or breaking a naval blockade) or unambiguously worded UNSC approval?

They wouldn't have to fear much if they have much popular support (= almost a necessity for successful modern warfare), after all!
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Old 11-17-2011   #105
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Default I can agree with variations on that...

Better is a constitutional and legal design that precludes military action without strong, better than simple majority Legislative assent. The US Constitution laid the groundwork for that but over 200+ years, the governing mandarins have figured out several ways to circumvent the intent. Good start, just didn't go quite far enough...

Even more comprehensive rulings probably wouldn't work totally. People are quite adept at figuring out the loopholes and shortfalls in any system or process. Flaw in the human condition. I suspect in the end analysis the Marines have it right "Nobody really wants a war but somebody better know how."
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Old 11-18-2011   #106
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When a monkey hits a key and gets an electric shock in response, he's not going to repeat that often. He's not going to try to do it better often. (S)He'll finally settle with the understanding that this key is bad.
Amazingly Dayuhan got this one correct.

There is a quote which has many variations:

"Wars are started by old men for greed and power but are left to young men to do the fighting and the dying."

Quote:
Could someone please tell my why humans have so much trouble learning that war isn't profitable and cannot really be done 'right', so it should be avoided unless forced on you?
It can't possibly be a lack of memory, for I see people discussing here in the general tone of 'do small wars right / wrong', and these people are still trembling due to recent electroshocks.
Actually small wars can be done right. The Romans handled their provinces for quite a while that way. The US don't know how, the Brits have forgotten and the French have been reduced to minor interventions for a long time now.

It has more to do with the Grand Strategy (being the desired end result) and the political will than the ability of soldiers. If you end up controlling the Saudi oil fields (for example) and the sea lanes to import the stuff there are no doubt benefits.

Profitable is a difficult word to use. In the case of Iraq the war was extremely 'unprofitable' for the American people (taxpayers) while being 'highly profitable' for the likes of Haliburton.

But we know who the war mongers are and know when wars are about to break out. We have had some laughs about my "three cruise missiles theory" but a serious case can be made for such short sharp interventions in order to prevent wars (where a lot less people die in the process).

Back to reality then, when you look at avoiding war you need to focus your attention on methods to constrain megalomanic politicians rather than the military.

Last edited by JMA; 11-18-2011 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 11-18-2011   #107
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Better is a constitutional and legal design that precludes military action without strong, better than simple majority Legislative assent. The US Constitution laid the groundwork for that but over 200+ years, the governing mandarins have figured out several ways to circumvent the intent. Good start, just didn't go quite far enough...

Even more comprehensive rulings probably wouldn't work totally. People are quite adept at figuring out the loopholes and shortfalls in any system or process. Flaw in the human condition. I suspect in the end analysis the Marines have it right "Nobody really wants a war but somebody better know how."
That idea has never worked and will not work in the future.

The US problem is their political system that allows 'very strange people' to be elected to the Presidency.

Deal with that issue and the problem goes away.
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Old 11-18-2011   #108
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...The US problem is their political system that allows 'very strange people' to be elected to the Presidency.
Okay. This one made me chuckle. +1
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Old 11-18-2011   #109
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You made the accusation, not I.
Yes I did and I stand by it.

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Certainly I appreciate both those factors. I would not have written what I did had I not. What you do not seem to 'appreciate' is that approach gives you more, not less, latitude to be egregious...
Nonsense. The line that you perceive to be crossed is too subjective. There are many statements made here which are only contestable to this very US-centric grouping. Outside this site they would be accepted as a simple statement of fact rather than raise a furore.

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Uh, I hate to break this to you but your 99% is probably overstatement.
Following your logic (above) you made the statement now you substantiate it.

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Regardless I agree with much of substance you wrote in that thread. I did not and do not agree with your posting style and use of words on many occasions, thus my complaints were directed at what I saw as a problem.
That was your problem not mine (yet you and others sought to make it mine). The truth often hurts and there is little to be said for pussy-footing around the issues.

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That comment applies to several other threads as well; what you see as speaking the truth as you see it is often seen by others as condescending, arrogant and unnecessarily abrasive.
Yes I know if you can't deal with the facts then find some other angle to deal with the unwelcome information.

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If your intent in to annoy, you're quite successful; if it is to teach or aid progress, I'm afraid that IMO and based on some comments from others on this and various threads (certainly including The UK in Afghanistan), you are not doing as well as one could hope.
Just stating the facts. How people respond to them is their problem. This (the council) is little more than a superficial discussion group. That balances well against the other aspects of this site. 'Teach'? Maybe there are some lurkers here who come for information and to learn, but for most of those active here their minds are already made up on most matters.

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Yes I do and I agree that your use of the word was wrong and possibly uncalled for if not pathetic -- that usage is just what I and others repeatedly complain about to you to little avail. That exemplifies the ability to do some good can get lost in a poor choice of words -- and ignorance or misunderstanding what one sees casually in a photograph to make a standing broad jump at a wrong conclusion and then defend it unto death can be counterproductive...As the Actress said to the Bishop, "It's not what you said, it's how you said it, Ducks..."
Well I saw someone who regularly posts here recently called a poser with no similar response... which supports my view that such responses are more using any method to deal with the bearer of unwelcome news. That we must just accept as a fact and as I said to Blueblood that certainly among those who post here the majority of Americans are not emotionally mature enough to get into nitty gritty debates. Fortunately there are some who can and do. So there is really a choice here, does SWC want discussion to be vanilla and bland with the usual 'me-too's' and back slapping or is there supposed to be more to this.

The serious/sensitive/of nervous disposition people can stay in the blog and the Journal and there can be a simple warning when entering the discussions:

"In the discussion area people tell it as they see it. If you can't handle robust discussion don't go here."

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You may think you're merely being forthright and not mincing words, others often seem to perceive it quite differently.I've seen no truth suppression here -- distortion, yes, suppression no.
Now whose problem is that?

distortion/suppression... call it what you like.

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Though I'll acknowledge that blithefully ignoring the valid comment of others with a differing point of view and continually beating the same drum(s) in spite of some evidence that a re-look may be in order can be, in a sense, tantamount to suppression.
Valid comment in whose eyes? Restating the obvious is irritating? Yes, I suppose it would be. Its like twisting the knife.

Its like saying "yes that is true, you can say it once but any more and you start to make the people uncomfortable".

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Let me point out, not as a Moderator, merely as another poster, that none of this has much to do with the thread topic. Nor, also off thread, did you answer my question about your accusatory foray that took us off-thread in the first place, thus it is safe to presume you have no such case to support your accusation.
And I say to you Ken, that it is improper to take part in a discussion and intervening as a moderator when it suits you. I am too old to naively expect fairness but you need to know that it is just plain wrong and inexcusable.
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Old 11-18-2011   #110
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Actually small wars can be done right. The Romans handled their provinces for quite a while that way. The US don't know how, the Brits have forgotten and the French have been reduced to minor interventions for a long time now.
Wrong problem, I think. The US doesn't know why, and you can't do "how" unless you know "why". If the policy objectives are uncertain, unrealistic, unclear, or just plain absent, the "how" is always going to be deficient.

The Romans knew why they were doing what they were doing: they were an imperial power, they wanted to preserve and extend direct control over subject peoples. The policy objective was clear. The Brits and the french once had that clarity, but they no longer do. The US doesn't have it, and while it complicates matters a lot, it's not necessarily a bad thing. An imperial America is about the last thing the world needs (IMO, of course).

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It has more to do with the Grand Strategy (being the desired end result) and the political will than the ability of soldiers.
Is there a difference between "grand strategy" and "policy"? If so, what is it?

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If you end up controlling the Saudi oil fields (for example) and the sea lanes to import the stuff there are no doubt benefits.
Unless you end up bleeding yourself into exhaustion trying to sustain that control. Great powers fall more often from hubris, overextension, and excessive ambition than from restraint and a focus on their internal affairs.

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But we know who the war mongers are and know when wars are about to break out. We have had some laughs about my "three cruise missiles theory" but a serious case can be made for such short sharp interventions in order to prevent wars (where a lot less people die in the process).
What you typically overlook is to make this method practical you'd have to grant leaders an almost unlimited ability to decide where and when violence is applied, and the risk of that outweighs any benefit. You'd have to trust politicians, and nobody sane does that.

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The US problem is their political system that allows 'very strange people' to be elected to the Presidency.

Deal with that issue and the problem goes away.
Yes, it's all down to that pesky and intractable phenomenon called democracy. Alas, we've yet to find a way to "deal with that issue" without creating far worse ones.
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Old 11-18-2011   #111
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When a monkey hits a key and gets an electric shock in response, he's not going to repeat that often. He's not going to try to do it better often. (S)He'll finally settle with the understanding that this key is bad.

Could someone please tell my why humans have so much trouble learning that war isn't profitable and cannot really be done 'right', so it should be avoided unless forced on you?
It can't possibly be a lack of memory, for I see people discussing here in the general tone of 'do small wars right / wrong', and these people are still trembling due to recent electroshocks.
Just thought I would add a quote from Basil Liddell-Hart to this:

Quote:
The germs of war find a focus in the convenient belief that “the end justifies the means.” Each new generation repeats this argument—while succeeding generations have had reason to say that the end their predecessors thus pursued was never justified by the fulfillment conceived. If there is one lesson that should be clear from history it is that bad means deform the end, or deflect its course thither. I would suggest the corollary that, if we take care of the means, the end will take care of itself.
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Old 11-18-2011   #112
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Yes I did and I stand by it.
Well of course you do.

This is off thread, petty sniping with no substance and idle back and forth between two old, overweening egos with too little to do. I may be bored but I'm not that bored and it's almost certainly boring to everyone else so I'll leave you to it. Enjoy.
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Old 11-18-2011   #113
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Interesting. I've never discussed Russians with Indians who have had direct experience.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhilai_Steel_Plant

My grandfather after his retirement from the army, worked as the police chief of the township. My mother and aunts studied Russian as kids (optional, ofcourse).
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Old 11-18-2011   #114
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The Romans handled their provinces for quite a while that way.
(1) Not by today's standards.

(2) See the history of the Gracchi brothers to see that for Rome, it was only the aristocracy that had lasting benefits from imperialism and the subsequent economic changes.
The empire lead to grain imports and slaves influx. Italy turned agriculturally towards slave-based plantations for food that couldn't be transported easily over the Med. The aristocrats got the spoils of war, the plebs didn't even get the spoils they deserved officially. Many of Rome's plebs became proletarians, while others were hard-pressed to earn a decent income because of the abundance of slaves.


It's not difficult to make that kind of profit off a war. All you need is an unscrupulous government and no French-style war profiteer crackdown after the war.


Now if this was desirable - why not simply hand the money to the rich and skip the war part?
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Old 11-19-2011   #115
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhilai_Steel_Plant

My grandfather after his retirement from the army, worked as the police chief of the township. My mother and aunts studied Russian as kids (optional, ofcourse).
That is interesting

Some of my family members describe "model villages" in India visited by Russian (Soviet) dignitaries. The visits are remembered with some fondness and pride. And I've had older Russian emigres tell me of their love for old-school Bollywood films. "How I loved Raj Kumar," one told me.

On the other hand, I know a number of Polish and other Eastern European emigres whose stories are truly remarkable: courageous and heart-breaking. (That's part of the cultural mix around me - Asians of a variety and Eastern Europeans). A few years ago I was reading a novel by Herta Muller - the Nobel prize winner whose books cover the time under Ceausescu - and I mentioned the book to such an emigre. It was sort of sad - my friend was surprised anyone remembered or cared how people had suffered under that system. I like hearing all these different stories and vantage points. It humanizes.


Anyway, back to Pax Americana vs. Pax Brittanica. I agree with other commenters that the British are better at discussing their past empire (their current neo-colonialisms, not so much ). Aw, just kidding. I am an Anglophile even though not a fan of the Raj.

Americans are touchy, I suppose. Who wants to admit we are an empire when that is not supposed to be the plan? Economic neo-colonialism is an almost logical second order effect of Bretton Wood institutions. How have we concluded that the Marshall plan would work outside of Germany and Japan? I contend that we have had a South Asian Marshall plan over the past sixty years, which along with Chinese and Saudi money, supported a nuclear weapons program in Pakistan. Inconvenient fact for Western internationalists.

Well, I don't know. I've gone far off of the main subject. There is this, too, on the various colonialisms:

Quote:
No issue divides India's historians more sharply than the impact of colonialism. Did British rule ruthlessly fracture the patterns of Indian society, or was it compelled to adapt to native styles, and merely preside in glorified manner over the more subterranean movements of India's history?....The state which the British built in India came to stand in a peculiar cultural relationship with Indian society: the British considered their most urgent task the Hobbesian one of keeping order over a bounded territory, but the Raj could not rely on preserving the peace simply through coercion or even by the deft manipulation of interests. It had to govern opinion. This it did by ostentatious spectacle, imperial Durbars and ceremonial progresses. These despotic tea parties won over a small circle of British loyalists, but there was no reshaping of common beliefs in the society at large. The barrier was essentially linguistic, and it endured after 1947. The language of administration used by the Raj -- for example, for revenue collection and property law -- had to be understood if it was to be effective, and so an elaborate and sonorous mongrel jargon of everyday usage was created, a Hobson-Jobson vernacular vocabulary. But the language of politics and legislation did not stray from the Queen's English. The British rulers swathed themselves in mystique by proclaiming in an alien and powerful language, but few among the ruled could actually comprehend what was said,
Link: http://partners.nytimes.com/books/fi...ani-india.html

For ten Indians that I meet, I find twenty opinions about the British Raj. I've never heard the exact opinion twice. History is still being written. Scholarship that mines the Indian experience continues. What materials exist of peoples outside the traditional written tracts left over from the Raj that one might study? Much work to be done, it appears.

(BK Ambedekar is interesting to read on this subject. As a dalit, it made sense that he had ambiguous feelings about the British leaving. Is there anything more horrible than the caste system and the notion of an untouchable? The cruelty is unimaginable. Not everything the British did was terrible. And not everything bad that has happened since they left is due to the residua of colonialism. People had different experiences under the Raj. The experiences must have varied enormously. Incidentally - or not so incidentally - that is why the Pakistani elite feudal system exists, in part. They didn't want to give up their privileged position, or so my teaching has been.)

Last edited by Madhu; 11-19-2011 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Spelling error. I am sure many other errors still exist....
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Old 11-20-2011   #116
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When a monkey hits a key and gets an electric shock in response, he's not going to repeat that often. He's not going to try to do it better often. (S)He'll finally settle with the understanding that this key is bad.


Could someone please tell my why humans have so much trouble learning that war isn't profitable and cannot really be done 'right', so it should be avoided unless forced on you?
It can't possibly be a lack of memory, for I see people discussing here in the general tone of 'do small wars right / wrong', and these people are still trembling due to recent electroshocks.
Fuchs, I'm not sure there is a shock or it doesn't get sent where you think. In the last few hundred years war has been fought primarily by the populace who take on the death, destruction, and general mayhem aspects (the shock). The rewards though go to the merchant political class and they are the one deciding who/when goes to war. They garner reward and general pleasure from the war in a variety of ways.

Not sure I can put a full faith in evidence argument together but it seems there is a substantive disconnect between who puts their finger on the button, and who gets shocked.
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