Question time on the FM website. Post your questions and answers!

Summary: It’s time again for question time — “ask the mineshaft”. In the comments post your questions about geopolitics — and post your answers to other people’s questions.  This is a community exercise, from the German “Gemeinschaft” (see Wikipedia).

Questions are especially welcome about current events and recent posts (which appear on the top of the right-side menu bar).  Please reply to all comments using the REPLY button (to keep the thread together)

  1. What will future historians think of our wars in Iraq and Af-Pak?
  2. Is the Federal Reserve a 4GW organization?
  3. When Castro dies will Cuba go Capitalist based on the USA model or the China model?
  4. What would Boyd tell Romney to do?
  5. Will Fabius Maximus come out of the dark and run for Political Office soon?
  6. Will any of the Afghan counterinsurgency advocates (the “surge”) be held accountable for their erroneous advocacy?
  7. What will happen in Afghanistan and the Middle East in the next few years?
  8. ____________


29 thoughts on “Question time on the FM website. Post your questions and answers!”

  1. How will historians view our wars in Iraq and Af-Pak? I believe they’ll read our works from this era — by David Kilcullen, Thomas Barnett, Max Boot, Ralph Peters, etc — as insanity.

    Kilcullen was IMO the best of the bunch. Consider his “28 Articles for Company Level Counterinsurgency“, so widely read. Article #1: become the top expert on your area of operations. That’s insane (but like all 28, good advice for insurgents). The expert *already* lives there, and in one year no foreign infidel line officer will equal his knowledge. (For more details see this post)

    Many PhDs will be issued on dissertations on the madness of FM 3-24.

    Will we learn anything from Iraq and Af-Pak? The essence of a broken OODA loop is inability to learn. Esp a locked orientation.

  2. This is a two part question depending on the answer.
    Is the Federal Reserve a 4GW organization?

    If yes then is the process they used to circumvent the government and pass a law to bring them into existance part of a 4GW process?

    1. The Federal Reserve is the opposite of a 4GW organization, in any usual sense of the term.

      It operates conservatively — to maintain the existing social and economic order.

      It operates through existing agencies, avoiding mobilizational of peoples which are the high card for 4GW entities.

      It does not “circumvent the government”, except in the commonplace way of government agencies seeking to avoid oversight and control by other governmental entities.

    1. It depends on what you mean by the US and China models, what aspects you believe characteristic of each.

      More broadly, most emerging nations have followed the same development model created by Alexander Hamilton (eg, strong central government, business-friendly government, State-built infrastructure, walls against imports) and evolved in the following two centuries. Japan brought it to maturity after WWII, tweaked by the Little Tigers of East Asia, and perfected by China.

      It’s a complex and difficult model, which most nations cannot fully implement. Latin America has slowly learned to copy some key aspects; most African nations has consistently failed to implement it successfully.

    1. I’m not a Boyd expert, but I’ll take a stab. I don’t think he’d tell him anything, as he’d see Romney as the enemy.

      * Undermine guerrilla cause and destroy their cohesion by demonstrating integrity and competence of government to represent and serve needs of people — rather than exploit and impoverish them for the benefit of a greedy elite.
      * Take political initiative to root out and visibly punish corruption. Select new leaders with recognized competence as well as popular appeal. Ensure that they deliver justice, eliminate grievances and connect government with grass roots.
      * If you cannot realize such a political program, you might consider changing sides!
      Patterns of Conflict slide 109

      Obama would be in the same boat. I think Boyd would instead figure out the appropriate level of the bureaucracy and effect change from a relatively low level in a similar manner to his forays at the Pentagon. My problem is I have no idea how to manipulate a bureaucracy like Boyd, I’m a rank novice in comparison. So then the question becomes how to use the system to change the system, which I don’t know. (Though another point to remember is that there will be people in positions to help that will want to, overtly or covertly, so how do you find/mobilize them?)

    2. I’d tell Romney, he’s a place holder for Jeb Bush. JFK, RFK and JFK jr we’re probably assassinated. Kennedy’s lost and the Bush’s won the political dynasty wars.

      Spinney’s review of Mike Lofgren’s Book: The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted: “The Enablers: The Central Role of Faux Republicans in the Anatomy of Decline“, 10-12 August 2012

      I’m guessing Democrats like Clinton and Obama figured out, it’s better to be an enabler then assassinated?

      Still waiting for the crummy, useless like tits on a bull American plutocracy to come up with their Gorbachev reformer.

      If I was Boyd I’d tell Romney to FO morally retarded biotch. lol

    1. I lack all of the relevant skills. It’s a demanding field.

      The most interesting disqualifying characteristic is the same that produced the FM website’s successful prediction record: clarity of vision comes from psychic distance from one’s society. For details see the Predictions and Smackdown pages listed on the top menu bar.

      The dissonance produced dominates the FM comments section. Unlike most websites, the comments here overwhelmingly disagree with the posts.

  3. Will any of the Afghan counterinsurgency advocates (the “surge”) be held accountable for their erroneous advocacy? Or will they continue on and work their way up through the bureaucracy and surface in the next GOP administration?

    1. Great question, of large importance to America.

      The future is just the past in motion. That’s why intelligence agencies keep dossiers, to make predictions based on past behavior. So how does history suggest we’ll respond to those who make correct and false predictions about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

      In 1969 one of the bright young State Department officers on Vietnam whose own career had been helped Vietnam would find that a reporter was going to interview Sarris about the 1963 period. “Sarris?” he said. “Why him? He seems to be a pathetic figure; why, he sits in the very same office and does the very same thing that he did in 1962.” Which was true; he still sat there years later, still making the estimates, which were still rejected and disputed. Others came were were wrong and had their careers advanced; Sarris was right and remained there.”
      — David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest

      Which of our dozens of intelligence agencies has the best record? Probably the least of them, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Wikipedia). Under Thomas L. Hughes their prescient reports were ignored, despite the record of being right when the other Intel agencies were wrong (see this George Washington U archive for details). Forty years later they were correct about Iraq’s WMD’s; from Wikipedia:

      In July 2004, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a scathing report on prewar intelligence on Iraq. INR was spared the poor performance review that most other intelligence agencies received, and the panel specifically endorsed the dissent that INR inserted into the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002.

      Another example: the 1970’s Team B exercise (Wikipedia), by conservatives who believed the CIA was underestimating the Soviet Union’s strength and threat. Their work proved totally wrong, yet its members went on to high office.

      Part of learning is re-rating experts based on their performance during the war. It’s a Darwinian process that keeps a government’s OODA loop working. Dysfunctionality is a failure to learn. People who screw up move up.

      My bet: this will repeat again. We already see this. William Lind is doing transportation policy. Martin van Creveld largely forgotten. The Marines are forgetting much of what they knew about 4GW.

      Ignorance is a result of our actions, not something that just happens to us.

  4. What do these high rates of illegitimatcy portend for America? If we can’t even create stable and functioning families (of any type, it doesn’t have to be a traditional one) what hope do we have for maintaining self-government?

    Honey Boo Boo Nation“, Rod Dreher, American Conservative, 21 September 2012

    1. We cannot see the future because we wear blinders that prevent us from seeing the present. When we see these issues — illegitimacy, health care, foreign policy — we see only ourselves, our dreams and fears. The other developed nations have similar challenges, and have found different paths into the future. Many of these appear to be more successful than ours.

      Look at the Scandinavian nations. They appear to have managed the transition to a post-nuclear family structure successfully, as western society so long ago managed the transition from the extended family to nuclear family. The people of that time probably expected that experiment to end badly, but its turned out ok.

    2. Honey Boo Boo strikes me as an aberration that has less to do with illegitimacy and family breakup per se than with the shameless vulgarity and coarseness of a degraded American subculture. It’s disgusting that such a television show is in production and has an audience, presumably including many people who are sheltered from such dysfunction in their own lives, but it bears very little resemblance to what I’ve personally observed of families dealing with divorce, single parenthood, cohabitation and the like.

      The much better outcomes that I’ve observed among my acquaintances are partly a function of high levels of education and relative financial security, but in every case I can think of they’re also clearly a result of parents who are determined not to model white trash behavior. The neighborhood environment plays a role, too: the cases I can think of in which I saw a family regress generation by generation from refinement into vulgarity all occurred in neighborhoods where the dominant youth culture was one of white trash degeneracy, while the families that have remained well-adjusted tend to live in areas with healthy, civilized local cultures.

      One likely reason for Scandinavia’s relatively successful transition away from the nuclear family is that it doesn’t have a powerful political bloc berating feckless young women to carry unwanted babies to term. I’m unaware of any serious movement in European politics that fumes about the evils of abortion, fawns over the cuteness of babies, and then disastrously fails to provide adequate support for children who have been born to unprepared parents. The Scandinavian model, including individual decisions not to bring unwanted children into the world, is fairly close to the model pursued by wealthy and educated Americans. It’s the uneducated and the poor who skew American child welfare statistics so wildly away from European statistics.

    3. @Fabius
      My understanding of your reply is that illegitimacy is simply one among other issues of varying value based on one’s perspective. My thoughts on the Scandinavian countries on their long transformation beyond nuclear families are that they are extremely homogenous, which leads to overwhelming support for their generous welfare states. Other factors that make this change less painful on their societies include strong but flexible labor unions that make livable wages possible as well as heavy state intervention in the economy, mainly in the promotion of strategic industries i.e. things like the Finnish Tekes (Finnish industrial policy agency) that helped Nokia go from making paper to cellphones.

      @Aliens in the Family
      I didn’t know this was a tv show until I read that article, I had only heard of a girl on YouTube drinking “GoGo” juice. As for the show I agree it’s a manifestation of America’s debased culture, as for whether or not TLC should have created such a production…you’re probably right.

    4. I’ll admit I’m somewhat confused by your reference to Gnosticism. Normally whenever someone asks you about philosophy you reply with “What is truth? Excuse me I must wash my hands”, unless the reference was sardonic (like I assumed your references to Gnosticism in the past were) or you meant there are no values except in what is true.

      As for utilitarianism, I always assumed you were predisposed to it in one manner or another, especially considering your impassioned defense of Keynesianism, which I had always been told was the school of macroeconomics most influenced by utilitarianism.

      To answer your question “How well does it work?” again I’m confused.

      1. Apologies, my comment was not clear. The point was supposed to be that values differ, so IMO these discussions of social policy should focus on results produced. Of course, this is a minority viewpoint on an unresolvable issue.

        As for my question, I’ll state it in more complete form: Europe is moving to a post-Christian form of society. The Scandinavian nations are moving fastest, as seen in the high rates of childbirth outside of marriage. This post-WWII trend should by now allow drawing some tentative conclusions. How well has this worked for them, esp vs. the far more Christian USA.

    5. It seems to work pretty well. Or at least it seems to create the least amount of controversy you could reasonably expect in a multicultural society like the United States.

    6. FM is a Cathar? Neoplatonist? wow.

      Seems like there would be benefit from incorporating evolutionary and cognitive theory into one’s spiritual perspective? Assuming that the emergent form of culture is holistic-integral (post-relativism/post-pluralism), it would seem imperative to make spirituality relevant in ways that are free of the “shackles” of traditional religion and politics?

      Seems like there is probably a natural hostility from a classical perspective toward holistic ones, but maybe this article from an Integral Theorist on epistemological indeterminacy might provide some general insight?

      Integral Leadership as Supporting Epistemic Sophistication in Knowledge-Building Communities“, Tom Murray, Integral Leadership Review, October 2006

      1. “FM is a Cathar? Neoplatonist? wow.”

        Gnosic yes. Cathar, no. Neoplatonism, no.

        Wikipedia entry on Catharism:

        Catharism was a name given to a Christian religious movement with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France and other parts of Europe in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. The movement was extinguished in the early decades of the thirteenth century by the Albigensian Crusade, when the Cathars were persecuted and massacred and the Inquisition was set up to finish the job.

        Wikipedia entry on Neoplatonism:

        Neoplatonism (also called Neo-Platonism), is the modern term for a school of mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century CE, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas. Neoplatonism focused on the spiritual and cosmological aspects of Platonic thought, synthesizing Platonism with Egyptian and Jewish theology. However, Neoplatonists would have considered themselves simply Platonists, and the modern distinction is due to the perception that their philosophy contained sufficiently unique interpretations of Plato to make it substantially different from what Plato wrote and believed.

    7. re: “Honey Boo Boo strikes me as an aberration that has less to do with illegitimacy and family breakup per se than with the shameless vulgarity and coarseness of a degraded American subculture.”

      Please remember that the USA was a frontier culture in its formative period. Interior/frontier towns, in contrast to older (usually coastal) settlements with more fixed social-religious hierarchies, were full of “unchurched” people and of people of mixed races/ethnicities.
      (Kevin Phillips, _Cousins Wars_)

      What seems to be missing in your analysis is to contrast the culture of the native americans that were on the frontier before it was a frontier, or the original african cultures of the escaped slaves on the frontier, with the “degraded” frontier culture.

      In other words, “Honey Boo Boo” has always existed, and is an inevitable product of a culture based on imperialism and conquest, but that attempts to elevate itself via an ethos of freedom and liberty. The contradiction seems unsustainable.

  5. New questions:

    • What will be the fate of Afghanistan?
    • Will the US stay after 2013?
    • Will the Taliban make a resurgence after we leave?
    • What about the rest of the region?
    • Will Pakistan be the next country to collapse into anarchy like Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Iraq?
    • What about Lebanon?
    1. (1) “What will be the fate of Afghanistan?”

      Once free from outside interference, their civil war that began in 1978 might eventually burn itself out. And we can turn to important unmet national needs. See tomorrow’s post for details!

      (2) “Will the US stay after 2013?”

      An unusual and fascinating thing has begun in Afghanistan: after 30+ years of meddling by infidel foreigners, their peoples have begun to reject them in an almost organic fashion. Just as happened in Iraq. And we’re surprised, just as we were in Iraq.

      (3) “Will the Taliban make a resurgence after we leave?”

      Yes. The Pashtun Tribes and fundamentalist will gain a large say in the Afghanistan, and the Taliban is one of their instruments.

      (4) “Will Pakistan be the next country to collapse into anarchy like Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Iraq?”

      We plunged Iraq into anarchy, and they’re pulling out of it. Egypt has not plunged into anarchy, and shows no sign of doing so. Libya might, again thanks to western intervention. Syria has a nasty civil war, but it will probably burn itself out.

      (5) “What about Lebanon?”

      It probably will continue to lurch along from crisis to crisis.

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