Sacrifice

a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”

aaron
Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity

I’ll avoid quoting cliche’ but we all know the text of President John F. Kennedy’s famous Inaugural Address. At a time when there was much uncertainty in the world, the President did not ask us to fend for ourselves but to band together and make sacrifices for the greater good of each other and the world. Later, at a speech at Rice University, he famously said “we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

In his speech on January 31, President Bush noted the following:

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

In this statement, the President is throwing the onus of oil consumption reduction on scientists and engineers, not on consumers and definitely not on producers. Again, no request for sacrifice from the voting public. Has patriotism gone to exclude the self-giving that Kennedy and others asked of us?


In reading this and reflecting, it occurred to me that this President Bush is very hesitant to ask anything of the American people, the Military excluded. We shy away from heavy environmental regulation because it may hamper our ability to do business efficiently. We opt out of the Kyoto Protocol, noting that other countries would not be expected to sacrifice as much as we do. We continue to decrease taxes for those who need it the least, and when I say need I mean honest, physical need. We ignore the warning signs of global warming, glacial retraction and seawater acidity, because no one has proven definitively enough for the detractors that we can stop it or that it’s our fault… Even though a simple reduction in world greenhouse emissions could show us a positive or negative change in warming acceleration in less than a decade. The President is eager to push Health Savings Accounts on the American public, asking us to spend more of our own money or go to the doctor less, all in an effort to better pad the pockets of investors and CEOs.

It seems that in every turn, the current Administration is only interested in making more, keeping more, and not in using less or making less. I understand that capitalism thrives on the efficiency of everyone being as greedy as possible, but could it not also thrive on people being as giving as possible?

Dan and I discussed at length the idea of a fuel tax. We thought that an increase in the price of gasoline might drive down demand. We discussed that this tax could be made fairer by giving rebates at tax-time for miles driven. In this system, those who drove the least would be rewarded and those that drove the most would even out. But we both know this idea would be political suicide for whoever attempted to legislate it. Again, no ask for sacrifice. Is it that unpalatable to the American public? For every person who volunteers for the military, where is the person willing to pay $5/gallon for gas? For everyone who thinks the President is infallible, where is the person trading in his tax-subsidized SUV for a hybrid, or even a higher fuel-efficiency vehicle? Again, efforts to mandate increased efficiency were retarded to spare the automobile industry the brunt of higher cost of manufacture. Some manufacturers even tweaked their models slightly so as to be larger than the government standard ‘light truck’ qualification, thereby exempting themselves from even the relaxed newer regulation. And who is crying foul? A marginalized Democratic minority?

This year, the economics of the situation got to me. I started riding my bike to work more frequently and I second-guessed a lot of short trips. I already had a fuel-efficient vehicle (32mpg) but I have paid more attention to keeping it efficient… Maintenance and more pragmatic operation. The President is pushing for more nuclear energy, which I applaud, but what’s wrong with wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy? Almost no mention of them in the speech. He mentions switchgrass farming for cellulose alcohol, a more efficient form of combustible than ethanol. But where is the mention of agricultural subsidies to the farmers growing an initially unprofitable crop?

I am interested to see where the Administration goes with this. I have great hopes for the American people. In the same speech, President Bush vowed billions for the teaching of math and science. And in the same term, argues that intelligent design ought to be taught in public schools. I think if we can only overcome the limitation of our President, we just might make it.

Guerrillaz, Part II: 19-2000

neither_shall_they_try_to_lose

The world is spinning too fast
I’m buying lead Nike shoes

To keep myself tethered
To the days I try to lose

My mama said to slow down
You should make your shoes
Stop dancing to the music
Of gorillaz in a happy mood

Keep a mild groove on

Ba ba ba Day dee bop

There you go!
Get the cool!
Get the cool shoeshine!

There’s a monkey in the jungle
Watching a vapour trail
Caught up in the conflict
Between his brain and his tail

And if time’s elimination
Then we got nothing to lose
Please repeat the message
It’s the music that we choose

Keep a mild groove on

Ok bring it down yeah we gonna break out

Ah ah ah ah”
Gorillaz, “19-2000″ (repetitions omitted)

There’s more…


19-2000, by Gorillaz, Gorillaz, 19 June 2001, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/19-2000 [buy the cd, read the lyrics, watch the video].

We do not feel good about Iraq. The reason is that our enemies have gotten inside our OODA loops — our learning processes — and are able to transient between one form and another faster than we can comprehend them. This makes them appear to know whack, when in fact they are whacking us. Much as Stalinism had a negative influence on the moral-political condition of the Party, created a situation of uncertainty, contributed to the spreading of unhealthy suspicion, and sowed distrust among Communists, the Iraq War has done similar things (but to much lesser extents) to America.

Time and again we have played into our enemy’s hands. Abu Gharib seriously damaged our ability to offer generous terms to the vanquished, while popular Iraqi politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was partially right when he blamed American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for the destruction of a holy Shia mosque. As Hakim said, American policy of Sunni-Arab appeasement has given a green light to terrorists by rewarding violence and bloodshed.

Now, it may be that appeasement does work. By appeasing Hitler early on, Britain eventually managed to permanently knock out Germany, warp Soviet development, and give global hegemony to a fellow English-speaker power. Perhaps by rewarding anti-democratic terrorists, Khalizad can achieve a similar coup for the United States. But the moral cost of this is very high.

From a moral perspective, our behavior has been functionally identical to trying to lose. As might say, we have shaped and influenced events so that we not only diminish our spirit and strength but also influence potential friends as well as to uncommitted so that they are down away from our philosophy and our antagonist toward our success.

If America wishes to remain a moral power — a nation capable of inspiring others towards a worldwide grand strategy — we have to stop dancing to the enemy’s music. We need to stop dancing, and buy lead Nike shoes.

We need to time-shift the OODA loop. When we try to dance to their rhythm we tear ourselves apart. But if we make them dance to our rhythm, if we purposefully elongate our thinking, we render the guerrilla’s advantages moot. John Boyd outlined three categories of conflict

  • Attrition
  • Maneuver
  • Moral

Maneuver warfare focuses on agility and the ability to get inside an OODA loop. The enemy is more agile, so wishes to fight maneuver war. We should deprive him of that, by instead focusing on attrition war.

We can do this by empowering local proxies to fight for us, refusing to fight the enemy where he is strongest (our lack of agility) and instead forcing him to fight where we are strongest (his lack of resources). In the case of Iraq this involves welcoming Shia and Kurdish reprisals against Sunni Arab terrorist networks. Going forward, it means that friends on the ground are much more important than a friendly UN vote or French nods.

(Focusing on local friends also gives us the advantage in moral warfare as well.)

Our military is designed for blitzkrieg, and its rapid interaction with so many complications in the local environment leads to friction and harmful waste heat. Instead of melting in this sauna, we should focus on what we do best and allow local friends to do what they would do best.

We need to cool down. We need to get the cool. The current heat of Iraq is too much for America to easily take.

We have spent too long listening to dancing to their music. Now it’s time for them to hear the music that we choose.


Guerrillaz, a tdaxp series in four parts
Part I: Feel Good Inc
Part II: 19-2000
Part III: Clint Eastwood
Part IV: Dare