SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Small Wars Participants & Stakeholders > Futurists & Theorists

Futurists & Theorists Future Competition & Conflict, Theory & Nature of Conflict, 4GW through 9?GW, Transformation, RMA, etc.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-06-2009   #1
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,189
Default Relative / absolute variables

Discussions about military affairs are often about certain variables, like "good governance". Such discussions are usually written in absolute terms.

That's misleading (at best) because warfare is about opposing forces (of whatever nature). Not absolute but relative is therefore the right way of describing things.

(Example: Electronic warfare equipment can be useless against a more modern EW-equipped opponent while being great against a poorly equipped one.)


Back to the recent example of "good governance"; we can ignore the "good" completely. It's not about being competent or such - it's about being the lesser evil (or greater good) in sum.

The decision between allegiance for one or the other party can be shown in abstract terms (although I'm no fan of math):

f(variables, constants for party 1) ? g(variables, constants for party 2)

with f and g representing functions and the question mark representing >, = or <.
(I don't dive deeper into details because those aren't really relevant.)

There are many relevant variables; diplomacy, sympathy, social proximity, diplomacy, bribing, governance, oppression/fear, trickery (just examples).

f and g are different functions. Being good at something isn't as important for one party as it is for another.

- - - - -

Using functions includes the possibility to factor in that not the real traits, but the perceptions. Perceptions vary among people and don't need to be close to reality.

The variables aren't alone. Constants play into this as well. Some people are prone to obey authorities, for example.

Those who already chose a side develop rigidity and are unlikely to change it (a constant that adds to 'their' side's appeal). Those who switch sides would otherwise be excessively prone to switch back very quickly.

Then again, keep in mind that f and g aren't the same for all people. They're just generalisations. f(...) may be greater than g(...) for some, while g(...) is greater than f(...) for others - the root of conflict. This can be shown mathematically with operators that multiply with the trait (and also incorporate the influence of perception).

It's likely that many people have similar functions for their decision, while few have very uncommon functions - the extremists who won't switch.

There's (at least) one more noteworthy influence:
A threshold for becoming violent. To prefer a party isn't the same as becoming a fighter. There are many different degrees of cooperation and support. There's even a zone of neutrality if one side is not much more favourable than the other.

- - - - -

OK, enough mathematical description of reality. My point is that much in warfare is relative, this applies very well to the people's choice of sides as well. This is a major topic of interest nowadays and the relative nature of both sides' strengths and weaknesses in this competition for allegiance is really important.

I hope I also reminded of the complexity of those choices. Losing people to the other side for one weakness may be compensated for by a strength or by fighting another weakness. It's not all about *insert silver bullet aspect of the day here*.


/ I guess all those paid anthropologists have long figured out and described hundreds of pages this stuff - one more reason to wonder why the talk is so much in absolute instead of relative terms.
Fuchs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-06-2009   #2
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Good post and points, Fuchs

...........
Ken White is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2009   #3
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
OK, enough mathematical description of reality. My point is that much in warfare is relative, this applies very well to the people's choice of sides as well. This is a major topic of interest nowadays and the relative nature of both sides' strengths and weaknesses in this competition for allegiance is really important.
Well here in the Mid-East we are supposed to have Absolute allegiances, but even they are not what they seem. Politics is pretty much all above the "relative" and rarely the "absolute."

Quote:
I hope I also reminded of the complexity of those choices. Losing people to the other side for one weakness may be compensated for by a strength or by fighting another weakness. It's not all about *insert silver bullet aspect of the day here*.
3,000 years of history would not argue with you.


Quote:
I guess all those paid anthropologists have long figured out and described hundreds of pages this stuff - one more reason to wonder why the talk is so much in absolute instead of relative terms.
The problem with folks other than good military historians dabbling in this field, is the use of terms, words and phrases which may actually obscure such observations!
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Clausewitz and World War IV SWJED Futurists & Theorists 18 10-23-2012 11:44 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 09:46 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7. ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation