Wednesday, February 15, 2023

We Should be Brave Enough to Say Hard Things

For a proud people who make their living off their credentials, their "expertise," or their position in an hierarchy - one of the hardest things to do is to say, "I was wrong."

Almost as difficult are those who are friends, co-workers, or potential employees of those people who say to them, "You were wrong."

Sure, there are good reasons to be wrong. Smart, well-meaning people can simply be wrong. No one can see the future, and when weighing this variable or that, someone can just have the wrong theory of how things progress. You most often see this in the "optimism bias" where someone wants the future to be an easier, safer, more controllable place. They have so much confidence in their intelligence and "transformative" technology that they can find a way to get around the hard, messy, and expensive requirements that challenged previous - less blessed - generations.

The above, of course, is just me being nice - giving people the benefit of the doubt. There are some well meaning - but wrong - people that the above applies to. Those people we can pat on the shoulder and wish well when they repent...but there are others that must be dealt with.

The rest? No. I don't think we need to give them anything less than scorn. 

There are bad reasons to be wrong. The worst pushed theories simply because they were paid to push them - hired guns - followed by those who pushed false theories for needs best explained by a psychiatrists. There is a special circle of hell for those who were wrong because they wanted to keep people from the truth for reasons best explained by a team of counter intelligence experts.

I'd ask you to think back to at least the fall of the Soviet Union and think about all the theories - clever sounding theories - that claimed their adherents had some special vision at that place in time that no one else had - and that even if it went contrary to experience of previous generations, history's lessons - by their foundation in the past - were suspect. Suspect because The Now could never claim ownership of The Past. As such, one could not build a reputation or business on it. 

Both crass civilian leaders and careerist minded uniformed leaders who knew better either kept quiet or joined in the big lie because they decided to accept the future-risk with the hope that it would either give them money to spend elsewhere for votes and clout, or for flashier things that lead to book sales, cool gigs, political appointments, or just a shorter path to that lake house they always wanted. 

Sure, they may be directly responsible for creating a military of empty shells unable to fight more than a few weeks - but the numbers they put on the slide displaced water and made shadows on the ramp and made people happy who in a few years would make a job offer or place them on a board for good behavior. Should the future-risk run out of luck - well, that would be someone else's problem;

NATO recently completed a large survey of its ammunition stockpiles and found supplies have been considerably depleted by the war in Ukraine, according to a new report.

Many NATO countries were said to have already had weapons stockpiles that did not meet the bloc's targets prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago

... the alliance found in a survey that those stockpile numbers have since dwindled even further as NATO continues to arm Ukraine at a rate that doesn't match weapons production.

Reuters also quoted an unnamed European diplomat who said: "If Europe were to fight Russia, some countries would run out of ammunition in days."

According to Reuters, many officials from NATO countries had "considered wars of attrition with large-scale artillery battles a thing of the past." Therefore, multiple NATO countries had let their stockpiles decrease even before Russia launched its prolonged conflict.

None of this is new. None of it. We pointed to it in 2018, 2014 and even earlier. Heck, NATO barely made it through the Libya operation in 2011. Hell, after Desert Fox we knew we had a precision weapons numbers problem.

Gates, Craddock, and others all tried - in polite ways - to warn the present what they were risking - but even they only did it out the door when it had the least impact. 

You see, there is recommended protocol. We can't upset people. They might call people who will write nasty articles about you that your neighbors will read. "Work inside the system" - that is they way...but really, it never is. It only perpetuates inadequacy.

Little was done. The future is now ... and it isn't some transformed tomorrow-land. The gods of the natsec copybook heading were right. They're right here - standing on our toes and breathing in our face.

What excuse for lack of action now?

The USA is in better shape than our allies ... and even some of our opponents as well - but you don't prevent, much less win wars, by just being marginally better. You must have overwhelming power.

If you desire a quick war, you must be armed and prepared for a long war. If you are not ready for a long war but only a quick war - then you will get the former and regret the day your predecessors bought off on the later.

Photo credit KCStar.

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