Saturday, November 19, 2011

War is Constant, Predictable, & Inevitable

When the topic of war comes up most people immediately envision bombs, bullets, troops and the like. A traditional military campaign. This is only one form of war, often the least desirable, but a valid form nonetheless. It is widely accepted as the least desirable because it threatens a common value: life. It is an uncomfortable and undesirable thing, which galvanizes everyone no matter what their opinion on the topic. Because it is so undesirable it is often the last type of war to be fought, with other forms leading up to it. This is an absolutely pivotal concept to grasp, because it implies that all-out war can be predicted based on prior events. If this is true, the trajectory can be manipulated to prevent it, cause it, or at the very least, prepare for it. So what causes all-out war to occur? In essence, what motivates people to accept death as a viable outcome? In this analysis I am not referring to small skirmishes such as Iraq, Afghanistan, or similar campaigns. These were initiated by decree and issued more as a 'job.' What I am referring to is something where common, non-soldiers are galvanized to the point of large-scale common resistance in either a civil or world war format. Determining this will provide the first clues as to the conditions just prior to traditional warfare, call it DEFCON 2, whereas DEFCON 1 is full-scale war.

As alluded to, people value life first. Second to life is liberty, or freedom. Third may be a sense of possession or ownership. To summarize, life, liberty, and property rights are universally valued, and often the source of war. As examples, if one feels threatened by another this is grounds for war to preserve their own life. If another power tries to enforce their will on a people, if pushed far enough, the people will initiate resistance on the grounds of liberty. Finally, if a land is conquered by a non-native force, the native people will be resentful, make claims to that land, and when possible, launch a military campaign to retake it. These are a small subset of examples, and one can think of many more, but the associated values are the source of the most fierce warfare in history including civil, revolutionary, and world wars.

As an aside, when someone commits a crime they are stripped of possessions (i.e. fine, confiscation), freedom (i.e. imprisonment), or life (i.e. capital punishment). This is how the justice system is constructed, and for obvious reasons. Punishment is designed to significantly alter the risk/reward structure, creating a net disincentive.

Now that we have established the three most valued traits the task of gauging becomes necessary. As a whole, the value associated with each of the traits is rather constant among people. Of course there will always be extremes where people are willing to sacrifice freedom to secure life, forego life for possession, or even sacrifice property for life. All-out war requires one to sacrifice life above all else, therefore it is dependent on the other two properties unless a direct threat on life is detected. In the absence of a direct threat the other two properties must be sufficiently strained, such that death appears to be less of a burden. This can be summed up in a simple quote: "I'd rather die than tolerate this." Of course, it is not that simple, because a fight precedes death and a fight has a probability of death associated with it. If that probability is sufficiently low, then the barrier to accept death as a possibility is much easier to overcome. For example, people get into their cars and drive to work every day knowing that there is a chance that they will be killed in the process; however, the perceived risk is sufficiently small compared to the reward, such as a paycheck and food on the table. People know that if they don't go to work, they may have no shelter, food, or other necessities. This forces them to take risks because the alternative is less desirable. Whether people know it or not, they are constantly evaluating risk/reward structures. Again, this is a pivotal concept to grasp because there is a commonality to this among humans. This common thread serves to fix certain parameters, which makes mass behavioral prediction much easier. This becomes more difficult on an individual basis because people have unique traits and value systems, but it is still possible. Further difficulty arises when the opposing individual is aware of your intentions. However, when dealing with people as a whole the conditions are rather constant. With the value system established, identifying human behavior and gauging sentiment is the next step toward predicting future behavior.

I'll stop here, but there are several more concepts to consider. This is because others also possess this knowledge and have an interest in influencing people around them. This adds stimulus to the system and competing agendas. You can think of the general population as pawns who are stimulated by outside forces (i.e. media, politics etc.) and those feeding the stimuli are on a second level. Further, there are those who understand levels one & two, they are third level players. They possess an intricate knowledge of the system and can influence any of the levels below. When you begin to understand the multiple levels, how they operate, and their weaknesses you can begin to infiltrate them. With all of this said, people share the same exploitable weaknesses. The entire value system is constructed from two underlying principles: fear & love.

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