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  • Archive for January, 2009

    Clausewitz, On War, Book 2: A Question

    Posted by Mathew Borton on 25th January 2009 (All posts by )

    I know this is a bit late, and if I missed the answer in someone else’s post, I’m sorry for bringing it up again. It’s a minor point perhaps, but on page 143 Clausewitz states that both time of day and weather are of minor importance in the engagement. This runs counter to what intuition would suggest. Can someone explain to me why Clausewitz says this is so?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Clausewitz, On War, Book 2: No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

    Posted by Mathew Borton on 25th January 2009 (All posts by )

    In book II, Clausewitz goes into great detail about the formation and application of theory. While he espouses little actual theory here, he does hammer home one extremely important idea.

    The most prominent point, in my mind, is that there is no one-size fits-all solution. Clausewitz discusses the use of “routine“ as necessary for ancillary functions and training, as it provides basic knowledge on a tactical level for troops in the field, and provide the junior officer with “brisk, precise, and reliable leadership, reducing natural friction and easing the working of the machine” (p. 153). Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable | 1 Comment »

    Hawkwind: Urban Guerilla (1973)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 25th January 2009 (All posts by )

    “Let’s not talk of love and flowers and things that don’t explode.”

    (For Bill Ayers, who switched from “infantile Leftist” to successful practitioner of 5GW.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Music, Video | 3 Comments »

    Womb Envy, Title Envy

    Posted by Ginny on 25th January 2009 (All posts by )

    How much of the reaction to Palin and now to Gillibrand comes because they seem to be carrying infants in many photos and carrying them as they discuss policy? Traditionally, women have been granted more power after menopause. However, a woman carrying a baby – even one she has had relatively late in life – is clearly not post-menopausal.

    While some who opposed Palin argued that her only qualification was not choosing an abortion, it seemed a strange observation, especially when she’d defeated ex-governors of both parties. Of course it reveals much about those who made that charge. The children weren’t props but part of her life. One of the few television series that tried to capture the casual and ever-present impact of children on professional couples was Thirty-something..
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Human Behavior | 6 Comments »

    Clausewitz, On War, Book 2: The Oblique Order, the Road Not Taken, and the Black Swan

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 24th January 2009 (All posts by )

    Themes and passages scattered throughout Book 2 reminded me of themes and passages scattered throughout mad prophet Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan. Both Book 2 and the The Black Swan detail the ways humans fool themselves, sometimes in disproportionately disastrous ways. Both preach a critical and conservative empiricism in the face of a baffling and shifting world. Both use some of the same empirical techniques, in Clausewitz’s case two hundred years too early.

    One of Taleb’s main themes is the tendency for specialists in any field to develop physics envy and attempt to reduce the horrifically complex phenomena they study to a deterministic and mechanistic model complete with grand and complex equations. This envy doesn’t lead to a higher level of truth and accuracy. It leads to a higher level of systemic self-deception and delusion. It creates financial weapons of mass destruction such as an MBA armed with a spreadsheet and the belief that manipulating rows and columns bestows the ability to prophesy. Vain dreams.

    Clauswitz joins Taleb in explaining why this delusion will lead to ruin:

    The essential difference is that war is not an exercise of the will directed at inanimate matter, as is the case with the mechanical arts, or at matter that is animate but passive and yielding, as is the case with the human mind and emotions in the fine arts. In war, the will is directed at an animate object that reacts. It must be obvious that the intellectual codification used in the arts and sciences is inappropriate to such an activity. At the same time it is clear that continual striving after laws analogous to those appropriate to the realm of inanimate matter was bound to lead to one mistake after another. Yet it was precisely the mechanical arts that the art of war was supposed to imitate. The fine arts were impossible to imitate, since they themselves do not yet have sufficient laws and rules of their own. So far all attempts at formulating any have been found too limited and one-sided and have been constantly been undermined and swept away by the currents of opinion, emotion and custom.

    You can see Clausewitz calling out Jomini here, since Jomini tried (and failed) to reduce war to a science that followed predictable and universal principles (see Clausewitz’s picking on Jomini’s beloved interior lines for a specific example). Many died in the Civil War because of Jomini and his perverse inspiration (they may also have been killed by a second generation of warfare but rifles, Minié balls, and Napoleon guns are a poor defense against an out-of-control theory straining for relevance or killer generations). For those that disbelieve that military theory can’t kill, Clausewitz provides warnings a plenty.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Clausewitz, On War, Book II: Inducing a General Theory of War

    Posted by Shane on 24th January 2009 (All posts by )

    In 1916, Albert Einstein published the General Theory of Relativity. As its name implies, the “general” theory was a broader – ostensibly more strategic – application of his Special Theory of Relativity from 1905. After starting with the descriptive, Einstein then broadened his perspective to induce a general theory that could be used to describe the nature of all universal forces.

    Carl von Clausewitz followed this same path nearly a century earlier, first formulating his “Special Theory of War” in Book I – a descriptive text that defined “what” war is – before inducing a “General Theory” of how war applies across time and space. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable | 8 Comments »

    DEFIANCE–Brief Review

    Posted by David Foster on 24th January 2009 (All posts by )

    Went to see Defiance a couple of days ago. This is the story (based on real events) of a group of Jews in Nazi-occupied Byelorussia who obtained weapons, moved deep into the forest, and established a community there, sometimes joining with Russian partisans for raids on German troops and on local collaborators.

    This post (via a comment by Eric at Bookworm) indicates that many “official” reviewers did not like this movie very much, and cites an absolutely bizarre passage in a review published by CNN:

    It’s a remarkable story, one that should have inspired a more exciting and original movie than this sluggish compendium of earnest debates and hackneyed battle scenes.

    The timing is unfortunate. For a story that has gone neglected for the best part of 60 years, this is hardly the ideal week to be extolling heroic Jewish resistance fighters. Ari Folman’s angst-laden nonfiction animated film, “Waltz With Bashir,” is altogether more relevant.

    Zwick’s Hollywood liberal credentials are not in doubt, but his films have a surprisingly gung-ho undercurrent (they include such martial adventures as “The Last Samurai,” “Glory,” “The Siege,” “Legends of the Fall” and “Courage Under Fire”).

    So, films are now supposed to be assessed based on the “Hollywood liberal credentials” of their directors? And the past heroism of Jews fighting their would-be murderers must only be portrayed and celebrated when Jews are not currently fighting other would be murderers?

    Americans must no longer allow their opinions on movies, or on anything else, to be mediated by the court scribes of the old media. For movies as for books, reviews by “nonprofessionals” posted on blogs and on sites like Amazon are generally much more enlightening than those by the “professionals.”

    Defiance will not go down as one of the great movies of all time, but it holds your interest and it tells a story that ought to be better known. Go and see it if you have a chance.

    Posted in Film, Germany, Judaism, Media, Russia, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    ChicagoBoyz Physical Fitness Series Continued…

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 24th January 2009 (All posts by )

    Even a simple playground can provide the tools for a great workout.  I did this workout myself today, and can report that it is moderately challenging.  Harsh language in video.

    Posted in Sports, Video | 3 Comments »

    It’s Still a Stupid Design

    Posted by Shannon Love on 23rd January 2009 (All posts by )

    More on the Aptera [h/t Instapundit]:

    Aptera Motors has rolled out the first pre-production model of the 2e, an all-electric three-wheeled two-seater that gets the equivalent of 200 mpg and goes 100 miles on a charge. 

    Wow, an entire 100 miles. That gives you an operational radius of 50 miles. I live in Texas. Even on a one-way trip, you couldn’t move between any two of most of the cities in the state. Most people outside of the dense urban enclaves on the coasts need more range than that. 

    It’s still a stupid unidimensional design. That still doesn’t stop me from wishing I could afford to waste some money on one. 

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation, Transportation | 5 Comments »

    New Deal Again

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 23rd January 2009 (All posts by )

    If the 1930s are really back, it won’t be long now before they remake Confidence, starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as an economist. Sorry, embedding was disabled.

    Notes on the cartoon: Oswald was originally drawn, but not owned, by Walt Disney. A few tweaks and a change of species later, Mickey Mouse was born. Take a good look at the mice on drums in the band – it was probably an in-joke. Also, check the credits: Tex Avery (Bugs Bunny) and Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker), among others.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Film, History, Media, Video | 5 Comments »

    Clausewitz, On War, Book 2: Chapter 1 Comments

    Posted by seydlitz89 on 23rd January 2009 (All posts by )

    The probing of the theorist of the moral pretension of the national interest puts him in an awkard position by making him suspect of being indifferent to all truth and morality.  This is why there are so many ideologies and so few theories.

    Hans Joachim Morgenthau, 1962

    The first chapter of Book 2 has some interesting points which lead to a fuller understanding of Clausewitz’s intent and the various falacies that he sees associated with theory.  I will comment on four points, but this is not meant to indicate that there are not others present in this chapter. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable | 2 Comments »

    Change We Can Believe In (More of the Same)

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 23rd January 2009 (All posts by )

    This is brutal:

    As Weiss wrote, “The chances of Schapiro shaking things up in the securities industry — instituting real, meaningful, desperately desired change — are about the same as the chances you can make a black bear curtsy and serve tea. This is a terribly disappointing selection.”
    This is not a pick that most people really care about and the media didn’t raise hell over it. 90% of voters still probably have no idea who she is, or what FINRA is. But the fact that the Senate rubber stamped such a dubious pick so quickly and without dissent could be a sign of much worse things to come.
    Convicted felon Sam Antar, who was the CFO of the Crazy Eddie fraud and now speaks out against white collar crime told me that “If I was still the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, Mary Schapiro is not someone I would be afraid of.”

    It is going to be a long four years (or 8) indeed. 

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 1 Comment »

    California’s Tipping Point

    Posted by Shannon Love on 23rd January 2009 (All posts by )

    I think a threshold or tipping point exists in the ratio between the political power of those who pay taxes and those who consume taxes directly. After that tipping point is reached, those who pay taxes become the economic slaves of those who consume taxes.

    I think California has passed that point. [h/t Instapundit] Tax consumers now control the state government and can vote themselves almost any level of personal income and benefits they wish while taxpayers cannot muster the political capital to defend themselves. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Political Philosophy | 93 Comments »

    George Orwell on Blog Comments, 1938

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 22nd January 2009 (All posts by )

    When you meet anyone in the flesh you realize immediately that he is a human being & not a sort of caricature embodying certain ideas. It is partly for that reason that I don’t mix much in literary circles, because I know from experience that once I have met & spoken to anyone I shall never again be able to show any intellectual brutality towards him, even when I feel that I ought to.

    Posted in Blogging, Quotations | 3 Comments »

    “U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clausewitz”

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 22nd January 2009 (All posts by )

    Many thanks to our esteemed colleague, Lord Curzon, who is not only the former Viceroy of India, but he apparently knows how to use Photoshop, too. He has put up a picture he made over at the terrific Coming Anarchy blog, which he says is his “one contribution to the Clausewitz Roundtable“:

    Clausewitz, US Army

    Clausewitz in camo, instead of sword, shako and epaulettes. If you squint a little, it works. The picture captures the spirit of our ongoing Clausewitz Roundtable, which is not meant to be an exercise in antiquarianism. What does Clausewitz have to say to us today? How do we better understand current issues, by looking at them through a “Clausewitzian lens”? What would it take to do a “critical analysis” of America’s defense challenges, along the lines Clausewitz suggests? The only way to get his perspective, without a ouija board or going to Heaven and asking him, is to read his book, as carefully as circumstances permit, and try to apply whatever remains of value in it to our current situation.

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable, Photos | 3 Comments »

    Adam Elkus posts on “Clausewitz, The Rage of the People, and Strategies of Positive Ends”

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 22nd January 2009 (All posts by )

    This is an excellent, link-laden post on Rethinking Security: Asymmetric Analysis by Adam Elkus. Adam points out that many of the modern manifestations of large scale violence in recent times are derived from one of the three segments of Clausewitz’s “trinity” — the rage of the people. But, as Adam notes, without the other segments, political aim and military organization and direction and discipline, the violence cannot accomplish anything. It either burns itself out, or turns into a pointless “vortex” of violence. (Vortices go around and around as I recall.)

    The challenge for policy makers, military commanders and democratic publics in developed countries is: How do you deal with this type of outbreak? As we know:

    The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and the commander have to make is to establish by that test [i.e., what’s the value of the objectives] the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to make it into something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive.

    If you are the French, and it is happening in Algeria, you leave. If you are the USA and these events are happening in a place that threatens your oil supply, or in a collapsing state that has nukes such as Pakistan may eventually be, what then? What if one side has all the elements of Clausewitz’s trinity in place, but its opponent does not? What if only one side has an articulable political purpose? Is the conflict a war at all? I ask this not to be pedantic. Getting terms clear from the outset is an essential aid to analysis. I think it is a war, since at least one side has political goals. But it is war which most of the time may have a relatively dilute mixture of what we would now call “kinetics”. Whether it is called a war or not, there are likely to be political and/or police measures rather than military measures in place much of the time. Bribing and coopting a faction in the “vortex” may make more sense than sending your own people into it, for example. The British failed to conquer Nepal, and they made lemons into lemonade — they brought the Gurkhas into their employ, to their mutual benefit for almost two centuries.

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    Clausewitz, “On War”, Book 2: the fog of war

    Posted by Kotare on 22nd January 2009 (All posts by )

    Many people talk about “the fog of war”, even if they don’t know who coined the phrase. It was Clausewitz, and he used it to describe the pervasive difficulties of uncertainty, distorted perception and unreliable information that plague the commander in battle:

    “all action takes place…in a kind of twilight, which, like fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger than they really are.” [2.2]

    In Clausewitz’s era – the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries – the commander’s sense of the battle was shaped by what he and his aides could see and hear, and on reports coming to him from subordinates. Good generals stuck close to the action, but much was hidden by ground, trees, mist, rain, noise, and the billowing clouds of white smoke that issued from thousands of muskets and guns firing. Information was slow in coming, contradictory, fragmented and inaccurate. Perceptions were distorted by worry, fear, excitement, fatigue and mental strain. “Whatever is hidden from full view in this feeble light,” Clausewitz wrote, “has to be guessed at by talent or simply left to chance”.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable | 3 Comments »

    Clausewitz, On War, Book 2: The “theory” of war is purely a means of professional formation.

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 21st January 2009 (All posts by )

    Clausewitz attempted to discern, and show to us, the “nature of war”, in Book I. He discerned that there is a theoretical “ideal case” or “maximum” case, that he calls “absolute war”, a sort of gravitational core toward which war by its nature, will tend. He also showed that this ideal case is unrealizable in practice. So, the nature of War in the ideal case, in the simplicity of the ideal case, will never be encountered. Instead, all actual cases, will be complicated (both the verb and the adjective) in a variety of ways.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Clausewitz Roundtable | 7 Comments »

    Garbage In

    Posted by Ginny on 21st January 2009 (All posts by )

    You all know more about finances, taxes, etc. than I do. All I know is what I learned from 13 years running a small business that used seasonal contract labor (typing during term-paper season). The Geithner case is a perfect example of why people don’t trust the government. My business offered neither the monetary help nor the repeated warnings that apparently the IMF did. Every year, however, those workers got 1099 forms and every year they paid their taxes. They didn’t try to see what they would get by with. They didn’t “forget.”

    It isn’t fun to pay taxes. It isn’t always easy. But they did good work and they were honest. I don’t figure anyone is too brilliant for character to matter – not when it comes to determining policy that apparently others will be expected to follow and setting up debts that others will be expected to pay. (Geraghty – thanks to Instapundit – has been doing blog research: responses from accountants, users of Turbotax, etc. Of course, no matter what the system or who the accoutant, garbage in leads to garbage out.)

    Posted in Taxes | 1 Comment »

    The Canadian Border

    Posted by Ginny on 21st January 2009 (All posts by )

    The text emphasizes a poem I hadn’t read before; that a dog doesn’t bark means something, even if we have good reason to cherish that dog’s protection. Of course, in a sense it is what we usually talk about: respect for others, tendency toward a “muddle on” pragmatism, and an essential respect for law, all of which we owe to a common heritage. But then, neither side has been suitably educated by UNWRA.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Meat Candy Meets Caffine

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st January 2009 (All posts by )

    You love bacon. You love coffee. So, the logical next step would be

    Posted in Humor | 2 Comments »

    The Mo-Dettes: White Mice

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 21st January 2009 (All posts by )

    Posted in Music, Video | Comments Off on The Mo-Dettes: White Mice

    Lex Green On Fire

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 21st January 2009 (All posts by )

    Nice bunch of posts by Lex as of late.  It gets me fired up!  This video is for him.  “They call him Quiet, but he’s a Riot!”.


    Posted in Music, Video | 1 Comment »

    “Get over it, you lost”

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 20th January 2009 (All posts by )

    Get over it, there is another election in November 2010.

    Get over it, there is another election in November 2012.

    Get over it, this guy gets no honeymoon, no free pass, no assumption of Christhood.

    Get over it, everything he wants to do has to get through Congress, and be voted on.

    Get over it. Bipartisanship means unilateral surrender in Obama’s world. I have seen no one agree to it, except some Quisling “Conservative” journalists.

    Get over it. It is NEVER OVER.

    Get over it.

    Posted in Politics | Comments Off on “Get over it, you lost”

    PR Cannot Change Reality

    Posted by Shannon Love on 20th January 2009 (All posts by )

    Okay, I am not making this up. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has started an online petition to somehow change the name of  “fish” to “Sea Kitten”. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Humor, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 35 Comments »