Archives for posts with tag: War

After reading this interview for a second time, I asked myself: ‘Why are you paying so much attention to this guy?!? After all, he doesn’t say anything new…’

Then it hit me!

“Russia” and “we” are two different things.

Russia, the country, cannot indeed afford to “lose”. To ‘lose it’, to be more precise.
Russia will survive, no matter how many more ‘mistakes’ the morons currently running it will commit.

“We”, on the other hand, are the ones who can. And eventually will. Lose. Everything.

And the longer those “we” are allowed by Russia itself to run the Kremlin, the worse it will be.
For everybody. Us – the rest of the world, included.

‘But when will this nightmare end?’

That I don’t know.
All I know is that it will eventually do that. End.

Look at the picture above.
When have you seen anything more British than that?
OK, fake British. Make-believe British. But British nonetheless.

That was which hit me.
That during its entire history, Russia had tried to emulate Britain.
The Russian elite has for ever tried to rise itself to ‘British standards’. From Peter the Great to Putin.
All the while convincing the Russian People that the road they were trundling on was unique…

The sooner the ordinary Russians will figure out that they have been misled – and enough of the elite will understand that British-ness is good only for the Brits, they will make peace.
Among themselves.
With the their Ukrainian cousins.
And with the rest of the world!

When Mario de Andrade found out that he had but one life, he had set for himself a certain goal.
To live his second life in a certain way. In the way he considered worthwhile.

We’re about to find out that we have but one planet.

How are we going to live our second life?

Homo Sapiens Sapiens is a species of cultured animals simultaneously capable to place a highly sophisticated IR telescope on an orbit around their native planet, the Earth, and to reduce a country to a pile of rubble.

Interestingly enough, the technology used to accomplish both, the rocket, has been imagined a little more than a century ago.
By, among others, Herman Oberth.

He had built his first rocket as a school project, when he was 14. About then he also came up with the concept of a multistaged rocket.
Lack of resources convinced him to study medicine. After only two years he was drafted into the German Imperial Army to serve during WWI. Initially as a foot soldier and then moved to a medical unit. In that period he found enough “spare time” to conduct experiments which had later enabled him to present “designs of a missile using liquid propellant with a range of 290 km to Hermann von Stein, the Prussian Minister of War.
During WWII he had worked at Peenemunde, were he was awarded a decoration for bravery during an aerial attack, and then at the German WASAG organization developing solid fueled anti-aircraft rockets.

Between the wars he had contributed to a series of experiments in Germany. For one of which he was helped by an 18 years student. Werner von Braun.

After WWII, Oberth moved to Italy to continue, for the Italian Navy, some of the work he had started at WASAG. Then returned to Germany to publish “Mankind into Space, in which he described his ideas for space-based reflecting telescopes, space stations, electric-powered spaceships, and space suits.”

Oberth eventually came to work for his former student, Wernher von Braun, who was developing space rockets for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama.

He retired in 1962 and had a brief stint in far right politics (the National Democratic Party of Germany).
He was invited to the US in 1969 to witness the Apollo 11 crew being sent towards the Moon and in October 1985 to view the Space Shuttle Challenger being launched carrying the D-1 Spacelab mission – “the first with German mission management and controlled from the German Space Operations Center
However, his primary interest during his retirement years was to turn to more abstract philosophical questions. Most notable among his several books from this period is Primer For Those Who Would Govern.

Humans, as a species, have harbored the same ‘amount’ of brain for the last 200 000 years. That was when the Homo Sapiens had arrived. But that brain had produced something only about 70 000 years ago. That’s why the second Sapiens was added, by us, to the name of those living since that time. To underline the fact that humans had become ‘fully’ conscious only ‘recently’. That having a big brain was not enough. That becoming fully human also implied self awareness. Wisdom…

Apparently that’s not enough.
After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWI such a creative mind as Herman Oberth’s was still capable of building offensive weapons for Hitler.
After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWII such a creative mind as Herman Oberth’s was still able of joining an extreme right political party…

After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWII at the hands of the nazi, the modern day, post communist, Russia is capable of inflicting the same kind of horrors to their close cousins, the Ukrainians.

When are we going to become Sapiens enough to stop this insanity?
To concentrate our creativity exclusively towards ‘elevating’ purposes?

Quite a lot of people around the Internet are considering that ‘Ukraine is of little interest for the US’.
Even some of the Europeans are considering that isolating Putin’s Russia from ‘SWIFT’ is a too steep price to be paid, by them, for Ukraine’s independence.

I remind them, all of them, of what Martin Niemoeller had to say on this subject.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

More than 200 rockets fired toward Israel since Monday

Gaza Strip has a 10 miles border with Egypt – which, for a while, kept Hamas at arm’s length.
Some 30 miles of Mediteraneean beach. Heavily guarded by the Israelian Navy…
And 50 odd miles of border with Israel.

Where did all those rockets come from? How did Hamas lay their hands on those missiles?
Built them from scratch?!?

Regardless of their origin, would Hamas have used them if not offered an ‘occasion’?

How wise is it for people to hold their ‘own’ agendas as being more important than the ‘underlying’ problems?


War has been the subject of many books. From war novels to ‘how to’ treaties.
When the subject is mentioned, two stand up high. Sun Zu’s “The Art of War” and Clausewitz’s “On War“.

I’m not going to discuss the relative merits of the two treaties. Only to point out a few parallels.
The authors had been involved in wars. Wars between states inhabited by more or less the same people. Sharing more or less the same culture. Wars which had ended when the warring parties had coalesced into what we call nations. China and Germany, respectively.

Yet we currently refer to those two treaties when we consider war between totally different nations/cultures.

Furthermore, we consider those two as being the pinnacles of strategic thinking. In a sense, that would be right. After all, both had been written by the winners of those respective wars.

But what happened next?

What major war had China won after becoming an united nation? WWII? When her enemy had been first beaten to a pulp, literally, by the US?
What major war had Germany won after becoming an united nation? The one against France in 1870? OK. And afterwards?

And what is the real meaning of ‘Si vis pacem, parabellum’?

‘If you want peace, prepare to wage war’ or ‘if you want peace, make your self resilient to war‘?

In nature, most organisms feed on other organisms.
Deer eats grass, wolf eats deer. Scavengers and microbes eat poop and corpses. All together ‘eventually’ enrich the soil. Allowing for more grass to grow.

One way to look at this is to call it ‘fight for life’. ‘Survival of the fittest’.
Yet this entire ‘carnage’ has a very interesting ‘conclusion’.

A fine tuned ecosystem. Which has lasted, as a system, for a couple of billions of years. Becoming more and more elaborate in the process.
And which has survived – as a system, I repeat, momentous events.
Asteroids, geomagnetic reversals, continental drift…

The ecosystem has been so stable that it allowed one creature to evolve so much as to develop a special trait.
Which has eventually given birth to ‘reason’. To ‘rational behavior’.

Which means that while wolves eat deer to satisfy their hunger we start wars to satisfy our egos.

We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses. That the tendencies and views of policy shall not be incompatible with these means, the Art of War in general and the Commander in each particular case may demand, and this claim is truly not a trifling one. But however powerfully this may react on political views in particular cases, still it must always be regarded as only a modification of them; for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception.

Carl von Clausewitz

Which wars have proven to be so destructive that we finally found a way to dissuade ourselves from starting new ones. New majors ones… until now…

And if you don’t have any clue about what I’m talking about, click on the next word.

Don’t fret. It is actually a very rational concept.
Not reasonable at all, only rational.

I was inspired to write this by David Sarac’s Twitter profile.
“Theory of evolution points to the conclusion that becoming, not being, is the essence of reality”

We are constantly being told that we’re living in the best possible world.

I agree with that.
Of course it’s the best possible one… specially since there’s no other!

On this side of the Styx, anyway…

Let’s get real now.

This is the Century when we’ve managed to open up all corners of our round Planet. We’ve ‘conquered’ the most remote and inhospitable places – both poles, all mountain tops and most of the ocean floor, including that beneath the Arctic Ice Sheet, and, way more important, made most of the Earth solid surface accessible for almost everybody. By car, by train, by plane, by bike, by ferry …
We’ve managed to populate all the ‘cubicles’ designed by Mendeleev and we found uses for most of them.
We’ve managed to identify a vast array of natural resources. We’ve developed matching technologies to exploit each of them, to transform and combine them into what we thought it would fit our fancies and to distribute the results to whomever wished to receive them.
We’ve continued to develop already invented means of communication and we transformed them into something totally different. Practically, we’ve restored the world to it’s ‘Golden Age’. We now live in the Global Village.

Which is not that much different from the old one…

Now, with the world watching Aleppo burn, Daraya fall, and Idlib and other Syrian cities suffer so brutally, Pope Francis’s description of Syria as “abandoned and beloved” rings chillingly accurate. After Bosnia, I was sure the international community would never again stand by and watch in silence as hundreds of thousands of people were bombed relentlessly, starved, beaten, traumatized, and denied the most basic human rights, including education and medical facilities. During the height of the worst years in Sarajevo, from 1992 to 1994, you could chart the ebb and flow of the city’s hope, like the steady flow of the Mijacka River, whose shelled bridges we had to run across to avoid getting hit by snipers. Food supplies ran out; soldiers were getting slaughtered on the fronts; the hospitals’ generators went down.

Janine Di Giovanni, From Sarajevo to Aleppo, Lessons on Surviving a Siege,
The Atlantic, October 12, 2016

What happened with “only a fool learns from his own mistakes, the wise man learns from the mistakes of others“?

OK, back to square one…

1918 had seen the end of the First World War.
Which was the first ‘mixed’ war and the one which should have been the last…

‘The last’ part is obvious, let me elaborate on ‘the first mixed’ one.

Basically, people are both lazy and easily frightened. Their natural tendency is to ‘give in’, a.k.a. ‘trade in’ rather than ‘fight for it’ ‘to the ultimate consequence’.
Which actually makes a lot of sense. Just imagine what would have happened if we were just a tad more combative than we used to…

Need a clue? Click on the picture below.

sex bonobos chimps

Welcome back.

The proposition “Laziness and congeniality is our default mode (mood?)” is valid but from a ‘statistical point of view’.
On a ‘case by case approach’, the manner in which each of us reacts in specific circumstances depends both on those circumstances and on our own interpretation of what’s going on. In fact, it’s our individual consciousness which makes things even more complicated than the situation described in the video above.

During most of our history, human social arrangements have closely resembled those of the chimpanzees. Alpha males have somehow managed to climb to the top of the food chain while the ‘laziness’ of the rest kicked in and allowed the alpha males to do more or less what they pleased.
Which had included a lot of unwarranted aggression.

Up to WWI, most wars had been started by aggressive rulers who had somehow convinced their followers to attack one or more of the neighbors. Which neighbors were also organized more or less like a chimpanzee troupe – ‘lazy and congenial people’ ruled by which ever alpha male was aggressive/cunning enough to remain in power.
These social arrangements had a very interesting consequence.
All conflict was between rulers and all wars were ‘turf wars’.
The belligerents were not attempting to out-kill each-other but to establish hierarchies. More prosaically, war was nothing but ‘protection racket’. The loser had to pay a certain amount of money to the winner – ‘war reparations’, surrender a piece of the ‘turf’ or both at the same time.

In time – due to particular circumstances, some of what are currently known as ‘nations’ have learned that ‘chimpanzee social order’ leads to unnecessary suffering and have (re)invented an alternative. A.k.a. democracy.

WW1 was the first major war which pitted authoritarian regimes against democratic ones.
Yes, humankind had already witnessed some wars which had been started by more or less democratically run countries – the British Empire had attacked the Boer Republics in South Africa, for example, only this is but a blog post, not a 500 page dissertation…
Unfortunately, the democracies which had won the WWI had behaved totally inappropriately… with dire consequences. For them, as well as for the rest of the world.

The Treaty of Versailles imposed a huge amount of war reparations upon the main loser. Germany.
Two consequences have arisen from here.

The obvious one was WWII. And almost nobody disputes this.
The less obvious one was that those war reparations had transformed war itself.

A democratically run coalition imposing war reparations upon a defeated and leaderless/dispirited population had transformed war from a dispute between rulers into a dispute between nations.

This was the ‘accelerant’ used by Hitler to start the second funeral pyre which had engulfed Europe…

Democratically run nations behaving inconsiderately towards other nations also established an immensely dangerous precedent.

The first example of which had occurred less than 20 years later in Spain.


Tomorrow will be a full century since the ‘Miracle of the Marne’, a battle from the WWI during which the French managed to stop the seemingly invincible German army at some 35 miles from Paris. Apparently the Germans erroneously appraised the state of the French army and lost a huge opportunity while the French had shown a lot more stamina and determination than they were credited for.

Also there are some chances that tomorrow will be remembered as the first day of peace in Eastern Ukraine after many month of (un)civil war.

What I would like to do now is take a fresh look at what we know as ‘wars’. Hot, cold, asymmetric, commercial, trade…you name it.

There are two interesting definitions that I would like to share with you:
“War is the continuation of politics by other means.”  This one belongs to Claus von Clausewitz, the mastermind behind the German strategic thinking during the second half of the XIX-ht century. The most immediate impression one gets from reading it is that war, per se, is a legitimate tool when it comes to solving problems. You try ‘diplomacy’ first but if that doesn’t work there is always the option of “WAR”.
“War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.” A XX-ht century hippie tree hugger? Not exactly… Another German, a writer this time, who had witnessed the WWI as a mature thinker – Thomas Mann, 1875 – 1955. I don’t know when had Mann come up with his definition but it is quite the opposite from the one proposed by his fellow countryman. On the other hand I cannot fail to observe that while in von Clausewitz time Germany was on the rise as a military power during Mann life it had suffered two humiliating defeats.

To be continued.






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