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From: franconia (Rep: 142) reply to bearishbenDate: 05/23/2010 09:02
Forum: Wall Street Pit - Msg #1947253Thread #672993962 (Rec: 0)
Your musings on war avoid a key question. That question is whether or not YOU will be unwittingly swept up in it and carried to your end, either as a combatant or by playing with money on the margins. Its one thing to look back at history and assume one would be the smart investor who avoided being shot or bombed, while at the same time profited from others killing themselves. The greater the conflict the more it entangles everyone in its own momentum. War is the contradiction of predictability, or to turn Burn's phrase, the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew, and leaves us nothing but grief and pain, for promised "rewards"!

Nausea is a book by Sartre where the main character is a history buff who is fascinated with the seeming brilliance of a political figure who anticipated and profited from events with great skill. Yet the more he delves into it, the more clear it becomes there was no predicting, no plan, no great insight. Every good decision was just luck and happen chance. This realization pulls the rug out from under his sense of reality.

"But everything changes when you tell about life; it's a change no one notices: the proof is that people talk about true stories. As if there could possibly be true stories; things happen one way and we tell about them in the opposite sense."

War is the worst story of all. What really happened is forgotten, what we remember is only a story told for the convenience of the winner to rationalize something never understood while it was happening.

Reply to bearishben - Msg #1947249 - 05/23/2010 04:15

Some Thoughts on Warfare:

Also, since I'm thinking about warfare, here are some thoughts on that topic:

1.) Warfare has become increasingly disorderly, chaotic, unpredictable, with asymmetries on both sides resulting in never before seen outcomes. Early warfare was orderly, as two sides lined up and fired at each other in tight regiments, units, etc., meeting on an empty, clear battlefield, and both sides were more or less equally matched in number and artillery---battles unfolded like a chess match, it was more about strategy for both sides, it was a gentlemanly clash. Advantages or disadvantages were more up to nature, like weather conditions and terrain than technological advantages or disadvantages, though tech increasingly shifted the balance going into WWII.

2.) Modern warfare is the complete opposite since the end of the Korean war, with mismatches between the contending sides---we see tiny, disorderly ragtag guerilla troops in small, loyal units going up against orderly, technologically advanced militaries. Some asymmetric differences are as follows:

2.1) Motive: the large, orderly, technologically-advanced forces had troops that were less loyal and determined RELATIVE TO (compared with) the disorderly guerilla troops, even though no one doubts the loyalties of troops on both sides (i do not at all doubt that U.S. troops are highly loyal, just the difference is that when invading, they're not fighting for the survival of their nation, whereas those ragtag troops on the defensive ARE fighting for their lives and the survival of their nation against what they see as the invading army---thus they are more determined, more loyal, more angry because they lost wives, children, to U.S. bombs). Example: some troops were DRAFTED to fight in Korea and Vietnam, so surely they were less motivated/loyal than the N.Koreans or N.Vietnamese & Vietcongs struggling to survive against the threat of total destruction.

2.2.) Supplies: the large, orderly forces have ridiculous amounts of supplies, armaments, transports, everything, and the small guerilla forces have the bare minimum of old weapons, barely enough food, troops, bombs they need to improvise, etc.

2.3) Finances: the large, orderly forces are financially backed by large amounts of wealth, while the small forces are not, in comparison (they may have backing in the form of weapons & food supplies, not monetary resources, so they're really just fighting for survival/ideology/nationalism rather than for money, unlike many of the fully paid forces of the larger orderly military).

2.4.) Size: the large military simply has more troops, firepower, etc. compared to the smaller military. the smaller military simply is outnumbered all of the time, so the best strategy for them is to use the terrain and home turf to the best of their advantage---they have KNOWLEDGE of the area and how to move around and hide in it, and make the most effective use of the natural conditions (weather, terrain, etc.), example: it's how the Afghans were able to repel the invading Soviets.

these are just some of the asymmetries to illustrate the difference.

3.) The curious FACT and phenomena is that ever since the end of the Korean war (with it included), the large military powers have struggled to swiftly defeat these smaller forces. Warfare has become more chaotic, and has lasted longer. Just look at the Afghan-Iraq conflict, it has stretched on for 9 years. NINE YEARS.

4.) Let's also look at the relation between politics, economics, and warfare: the U.S. government in particular has, ever since WWII, held the policy of intervening and trying to interfere with localized conflicts, for example, you see the U.S. intervening in the North vs. South Korean war, you see the U.S. intervening in the North vs. South Vietnam war, you see the U.S. now intervening in the Shiite vs. Suni Iraqi civil war, with the proposed justification that the U.S. is spreading democracy, imparting order unto these disorderly conflict-states, and trying to restore economic health to them. I have no doubt in my capitalist-mind that the U.S. is good at stimulating economic development, just look at Japan and Israel, but the U.S. has also failed miserably when intervening in South American conflicts, often times actually creating a dictatorship! So it's not as though the U.S. has a great track record or low error rate...i haven't calculated the fraction of successes versus failures out of the total, but just intuitively, it looks almost 50-50 that the U.S. helps and harms when it intervenes in the affairs of other nations. If that's true, the U.S. should just leave things alone, and focus on improving it's own nation, economy, educational system, etc. but uh oh, it doesn't. Obama marketed himself as the anti-war president RELATIVE TO McCain, but as of 2010 he has only sustained war activities and even approved a troop surge. troop surge? whaaaaat? that's the exact opposite of pulling out....that's the opposite of what a nation does when it's running out of money and taking on more and more debt! So you see the problem: the smaller military MUST use randomized guerilla warfare attacks and make war more chaotic, because if they matched the orderly strategy with the larger military side, it would get creamed rather quickly, and plus, it just does not have the resources or manpower to do so. I haven't looked into the first Iraqi war in depth, but i think that's how Saddam got his arse handed to him by G. Bush Sr., because the U.S. broke their resolve early in the match by leveraging tech. superiority at the beginning, thus breaking their motivation/supplies/armaments early enough in the conflict to make the second half a cake walk.

5.) Lastly, what's spooky is that the same exact pattern is repeating: past empires fell apart internally because they tried to expand or interfere externally, by fighting costly wars and spreading their political or economic ideology, and they ended up going bust financially. my brief studies of ancient & modern China was that their best rulers during their most prosperous periods focused on what academics now call "magnetic hegemony"---meaning, they focused on bettering their own nation, which resulted in both internal stability (happy, prosperous citizens, and healthy economy) AND external stability (no conflicts with other nations, staying neutral, not intervening and annoying other sovereigns). It looks like China is doing that again now, by preserving their appearance of peacefulness and neutrality, even though we all know they're friendly towards N. Korea. Compare this practice of "magnetic hegemony"----called magnetic because it attracted nations to ally with China and skilled individuals to immigrate there-----with the current obnoxious policies of the U.S. and you will see that we're in deep trouble. The U.S. is doing the exact opposite of magnetic hegemony, and in the process it's pissing off nations left and right, particularly the middle easterners, but also gradually the Chinese, as well as some Europeans, with Wall Street firms basically doing harm to Europe with its financial instruments (as the accusation goes---namely, that Goldman messed up Greece, no need to go into the details here).

6.) but maybe all of this is just overly pessimistic CONSPIRACY theory because surely, no great civilization can go bust, right?

7.) Chief U.S. exports: DEMOCRACY, U.S. bonds, U.S. Dollars, Rap Music, Country Music, Hollywood movies, FINANCIAL DERIVATIVES!

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