Tag: Strategy

Despair and the Difficulties of the Enemy

 

I see a a lot of posts and comments from people who have concluded that the 2022 election is hopeless–that election fraud, combined with the huge Democrat funding advantage and the dominance of Democrat-advocating media, will make it impossible for any Republican candidate to win (any Republican candidate other than those who aren’t a challenge to the Democrat-desired status quo, at least).

I’m reminded of a passage in the book Infantry in Battle, written between the world wars–it contains numerous individual-experience monographs (American, French, and German) along with some rather philosophical thoughts about conclusions to be drawn from these experiences.  (The book was edited by then-colonel George C Marshall)

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The good news is that the worst is likely to be past, nationally, in seven to ten days. The IHME model has been doing a pretty good job of forecasting deaths and resource usage. An update over the weekend has both brought down the count of anticipated deaths nationally, and greatly lowered both the deaths […]

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There was a thing that my older brother would do back when we were kids playing chess. It infuriated me to no end. I’d sit there, thinking about a move for a couple minutes, then I’d make my move. He’d reach down and without taking any time to think at all he’d make his move. […]

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Things look pretty good when you’re up 34-7. A point differential that wide means you’ve been thoroughly dominating your opponent. When you find yourself in that satisfying place, there are a couple of strategies that can follow. One strategy is to pump the brakes. This is not a bad strategy. Sometimes the vast success means […]

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Deflating the North Korean Threat

 

I believe there is more that the US government, as a whole, can do to maximize the odds of a non-violent or non-catastrophic end to the North Korean nuclear program. I am not arguing against any current effort, rather I see an additional line of effort which directly attacks the North Korean regime’s legitimacy. The latest missile test underlines the urgency of some further effort to stop the DPRK nuclear weapons program.

Deflate the DPRK regime by opening the escape valve into China

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A few days ago I raised the question of Is There a Grand Strategy for the Current War? It was not a rhetorical question. I was hoping to provoke some strategic analysis of what the US is facing. The best response was a proposal that sounded like a bunch of Special Forces operations in countries […]

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About a week ago Matthew Continetti had a great column at the Washington Free Beacon, entitled The Bodyguards of Kim Jong-Un. He starts with the historical parallel of today to what happened in the war we fought about 50 years ago: “Why did we lose this war?” asked James Burnham of Vietnam in 1972. One […]

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A few days ago Fox News finished conducting a poll, of roughly 1,000 registered voters, via phone calls and found that a strong majority of Americans do not find Trump’s tweets to be helping his agenda. In fact 71% thought it hurts his agenda, while only 17% think it helps. The poll also found that only 13% […]

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People play games for different reasons. People are looking for different things out of the experience. There are many variants and shades of motivations, but broadly you can cut it down to two categories: I’m here to have fun. I’m here to win. Now real people are never only one thing or the other. Myself […]

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“Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.” -Thomas Edison These cards are coming from a game of mine. That line is solid life advice, but it’s also sound strategy for the game. When you have no cards in play, no tricks up your sleeve, you can still talk. “Actually, in your situation I’d […]

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Let’s say you’re playing chess. You make your move, confident that you’re giving him trouble, and you take your hand off the piece. As soon as you do, though, you see what you missed. If he moves his knight… there then he’s going to capture your queen the move after. What do you do? You […]

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An earlier post by @susanquinn involved a discussion of strategy, and how might an outside observer understand Mr. Obama’s strategy in the Middle East? Given the seeming incoherence of U.S. actions in that part of the world, asking whether or not there is an underlying strategy to it all is a pretty good question. Having had […]

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For those who have owned businesses or been salespeople and tried to meet potential customers, it is usually not long before the first invitation comes to visit a referral networking group. The basic concept is that the group has business categories, and they will only allow one business of each category into that particular chapter. […]

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How did I get to be an expert at formulating marketing plans? Well, I got a D in Marketing at university, but that was all I needed to get my degree, so I was happy and out of there. Several years later, I worked for an Information Technology (IT) company and was transferred into a […]

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A friend sent me an AEI article positing a needed strategy for combating the Daesh and al Qaeda. The article is A Global Strategy for Combating al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and it can be seen here. What follows is my top-level critique of the piece; I’m deliberately eliding the likelihood of seeing it […]

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Unreality and Nihilism

 

shutterstock_273465104George Kennan’s classic 1947 “X” article, published anonymously in Foreign Affairs under the title The Sources of Soviet Conduct, laid the foundation for more than 40 years of American Cold War policy toward its Soviet adversary. Kennan’s article is a model of analytical clarity and grand-strategic vision, best known for formulating the strategy of “containment”. But while containment was Kennan’s famous – and famously successful – policy prescription for the challenge facing the United States in 1947, what is often forgotten is his thesis, which is hiding in plain sight within the article’s title: if you want to prevail over your adversary, you must first understand what motivates him. What are the sources of his conduct? What is his “political personality”?

In the case of the Soviet Union, Kennan identifies the basic source in Marxist-Leninist ideology, and in particular, two of its key postulates: the innate and irreconcilable antagonism between capitalism and socialism; and the infallibility of Soviet political leadership. All Soviet conduct in foreign affairs flows from these two elements. In light of which, Kennan deduces that “Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy, but which cannot be charmed or talked out of existence.”

Secretary of State George Marshall and President Truman were persuaded by Kennan’s analysis and, with much public debate, committed the United States to a costly, long-term national effort to contain Soviet Communism. The precise meaning and form of this effort were subject to some disagreement around the edges, but its main contours remained firm and constant for over 40 years. This massive commitment was made while the smoking ruins of World War II still smoldered, and with the catastrophic failure of the major democracies to understand and confront the sources of Nazi conduct still fresh in the minds of America’s leadership class.

Playing the Short Stack

 

shutterstock_242602498In poker, your strategy should vary by how many chips you have in front of you. Every hand, each player is required to ante-up a small amount to stay in the game. If you’re winning, paying the ante is no big deal, and you can afford to play the long game: make safe bets, don’t bluff stupidly, wait for a good hand, and be content to let the ante drive your opponents broke.

If you’re losing, you’ve only got a few chips in front of you. Just putting your ante in the pot every time leaves your bankroll empty after, maybe, eight hands. You can’t afford to wait. You must bet on middling hands and — if necessary — bluff wildly. It’s not a question of winning: you’re playing to stay in the game. Delaying the inevitable loses every time, but making risky plays only loses most of the time; sometimes, it actually leads to victory.

In poker terms, that’s called “playing the short stack.” As a principle of strategy it has applications all over. Look at Putin: if gas prices remain low, the Russian economy will tank. To remain in power, he’ll have to find other ways of making Russians love him, probably by sending tanks where we don’t want them. Look at the Seahawks; they pull out all the trick plays to come back and actually win against my beloved Packers. Look at Herman Cain last election; he wasn’t going to win by being “the boring-but-reliable guy” or even “the boring-but-reliable black guy” so he had to make some waves. He kept shouting “Nine Nine Nine!” so people would pay attention to him. Otherwise he’d just have lost quietly.