YouTube – Risk Strategy versus Tactics Part1

The US military is supposed to have the best military minds working for it. Yet, they seem utterly incapable of understanding the concept of ‘strategy’. They mix it up with ‘tactics’. Since our politicians have no clue about war strategy, either, we end up making the same mistakes all previous empires make: trying to hold as much land as possible, using military force. I use the 1957 edition of the game ‘Risk’ to explain how this works.

YouTube – Risk Strategy versus Tactics

 The US military is brought up to think that conquering and holding maximum territory is a good strategy. It is not, this is how empires die.






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  1. nah

    im comming to believe we have chosen the wrong time for conflict… mostly because we have the wrong tools and policys…. mite well be said that our greatest security would be to wait and enjoy our providence, and if we are to rise up win win and win
    mite as well call nato nata’ boooooi…. thats 2 words

  2. David

    Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military advisor. He was the author of the overall strategy that General Giap and Ho Chi Minh used to defeat the US in Vietnam. Yet, he is continually ignored by modern military planners, oftentimes civilian planners and leaders who ignore their own generals and engage in wars without knowing what is involved.
    Below are a few lines from The Art of War…as translated by Colonel Giles….there are several translations…..and the Japanese love this book and apply it to business strategies with great success. I listed a few of Sun Tzu’s dictums and added comments.
    Sun Tzu Said:
    A nation can be impoverished by the army when it has to supply the army at great distances. AFGANISTAN IS A FAR PIECE FROM THE US.
    When provisions are transported at great distances, the citizens will be impoverished. THIS IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE APPARENT IN RECENT WARS.
    Those in proximity to the army will sell goods at high prices. THOSE WITH CLOSE CONTACTS WITH THE MILITARY SURE GET PAID WELL FOR SUPPLIES.
    When goods are expensive, the citizens’ wealth will be exhausted. AND THE US IS HAVING SOME DIFFICULTY IN THIS AREA.
    When their wealth is exhausted, the peasantry will be afflicted with increased taxes. OR THE NATION WILL CREATE DEBT THAT WILL BE BOUGHT UP BY THE GOVERNMENT AND PASSED ON TO FUTURE TAXPAYERS.
    One who does not know the enemy and does not know himself will be in danger in every battle. THERE IS SOME DOUBT WHETHER WE REALLY KNOW EITHER THE ENEMY OR OURSELVES CONSIDERING ALL THAT HAS RECENTLY GONE ON.
    A defeated army first seeks to do battle, then obtains conditions for victory. JUST JUMP RIGHT ON IN AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS….Sounds familiar.
    Generally the one who first occupies the battlefield awaiting the enemy is at ease. SEEMS THAT THE AFGAN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN THERE A THOUSAND YEARS ALREADY.
    Therefore, if the enemy [or invader] is at ease, be able to exhaust him;
    if the enemy is well fed, be able to starve him;
    if the enemy is settled, be able to move him;
    appear at places where he must rush to defend, and rush to places where he least expects.
    Therefore, they are the masters of the enemy’s [or invaders] fate.
    To achieve an advance that cannot be hampered, rush to his weak points.
    To achieve a withdrawal that cannot be pursued, depart with superior speed.
    Though the enemy is many, he can be prevented from doing battle.
    Therefore, know the enemy’s plans and calculate their strengths and weaknesses. THAT’S WHERE ALL OF THOSE FRIENDLY SPIES IN THE POPULATION COME IN TO RESISTANCE MOVEMENT PLANS.
    Provoke him, to know his patterns of movement. TESTING HIS REACTIONS.
    Determine his position, to know the ground of death and of life. WHAT HE IS CAPABLE OF.
    Probe him, to know where he is strong and where he is weak.
    The ultimate skill is to take up a position where you are formless. THE OBJECTIVE OF ALL RESISTANCE FIGHTERS, AND THIS IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO COUNTER…..because torturing to discover resistance organizations objectives always brings condemnation of methods….might win the battles but then loose the war.

  3. emsnews

    The Mongols took care of all this by being extraordinarily vicious: killing everyone. We are very tempted to do this, too. It is the greatest of temptations. Which would make us ‘evil’.

  4. David

    Sorry to get going on this so much, but I’ve thought about all of this warmaking stuff a lot, and I believe the US view of warmaking is over the top….not for defense especially, but just warmaking for the sake of warmaking….and it has become a somewhat mindless way of life for us.
    I sometimes think that the main strategic objective of recent wars is simply to have wars…and not much of anything else…not even solid political objectives or even gaining natural resources for the empire.
    Young people in the US nowadays are brought up on very violent video games that give them a good education in weapons and tactics before they ever enter the military and go through basic training….but most have nearly no idea of why they would want to go to another country halfway around the globe and make war on another nation or people….except that maybe it is a natural thing to do after being trained for so many years in violent competition with their computers and with violent contact sports also.
    Many of us older folks neglect the affect of computer generated warfare….The kids nowadays are addicted to it and play it online…often compulsively, day after day. If you don’t believe me, just go to the electronics section of Wally World and you will discover that violent warfare video games are the hottest sellers there….and then they have ROTC programs in high schools that let them play with cool stuff like guns and pretty uniforms…so it is natural that many young people would be enticed into entering the military and going to war.
    I’m talking about the enlisted warfighters here. If you ask one of them why he or she is in Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan, they will parrot the simple rationalization they have been taught by their military instructors….I did the same thing before seeing what Vietnam was about in real time.
    It is interesting that officers take a much more cynical and truthful view. I watched one navy commander…don’t remember exactly who or what rank, answering an interviewer’s questions about this. He stated that “the US military is prepared to do a fair amount of killing in order to dominate world affairs and economics”….so most of the older officers know the score… That is why, during the Vietnam war, most of them hid out in air conditioned trailers and command posts while the young lieutenants and enlisted men tramped through the sweltering jungles. And those young officers had shorter tours in the bush than the enlisted soldiers….I don’t know if this is still true or not.
    It seems that these officers have been well indoctrinated with the belief that war is a normal human condition, and being brutal and killing others for the nation’s or empire’s economic interests is just a normal human endeavor….and I’ve talked to a few retired veteran officers, and they often still cling to this belief even after years away from the military….so officer training is very rigid and structured and well rationalized…and even truthful to some extent…not much idealism, but a false belief that war is just a necessary human evil and that it’s an honor to be a leader of warriors….a war culture. Of course reasonable people know this is untrue because many nations around the world work hard to get along with neighbors and avoid warfare whenever possible.
    Of course military contractors and corporatists and Wall Street investors love war. Anytime war is on the horizon, stocks in certain corporations that make munitions and war supplies shoot upwards, and this pulls the entire market through the roof….blood money…and they lap up the blood like a pack of wolves at a fresh kill.
    And finally, our dear politicians who are accepting campaign contributions and disguised bribes from everyone associated with war profits and the defense establishments in their districts. They jump on the bandwagon and pass warmaking resolutions against this or that poorly armed nation, ostensibly for ideological reasons (domino theory, spread freedom and democracy, save them from themselves, bring modernization to them, etc…..almost any good rationalization will do if you scare the public a little with some falling buildings and anthrax attacks against possible political opponents first.)
    So, I conclude that US warmaking has almost left the realm of having much of any connection with any real, justifiable need except to provide jobs for warmakers and to satisfy a natural blood lust for moneymaking and adventure that is cultivated in US citizens from the moment of their birth. I think of Sparta where warmaking became a war of life for its own sake…and that culture eventually faded from the earth…I know that we are much more complex than Sparta, but I wonder if the dangers are not the same to some extent.

  5. payAttention

    He is not ignored. He is required reading at The Army War College and West Point. But don’t let facts get in the way of you very long essays.

  6. emsnews

    No, the Spartans were ENSLAVED by the Roman war addicts. Remember the movie, ‘Spartacus’? About one of those people reduced to fighting in the Roman arenas.
    The danger of being too warlike means being reduced to an entertainment. The video games are all fun because there is no pain. But real war hurts, a lot. This is why we are increasingly addicted to using killer robots like the Evil Empire in Star Wars.

  7. emsnews

    Pay Attention, many books are read and few are UNDERSTOOD. Got that? Good. I am glad you read very, very carefully [with equal struggles at understanding even simple stuff]. 🙂

  8. David

    Pay Attention:
    Ah! The secret critic who knows all, but explains nothing online again!
    Long essays huh? Pay attention huh? Who is “he?” Is “he” related to “they” and perhaps it is “they” who know for sure that “he” whoever “he” is, is required reading at West Point or The Army War College.
    Now, how do I know that you are giving me the facts. You don’t explain where you got your information about this mysterious “he” and his association with West Point or the Army War College.
    Give us some more facts. Do you know this for sure. Are you an officer, a general and did you attend West Point and The Army War College?
    Pay attention now. When you go snarking at Elaine or me or anyone else, back up what you say with some reason and where and how you got your information….and that means doing a little more than writing stupid one or two liner comments and criticisms.
    If you want to correct me, write at least a paragraph or two and explain how you see a particular situation or event, and how your critical and brilliant view is different, and then give me some sound reasons why you see things the way you do….an I will respect what you say.
    We need your help in understanding these situations Pay Attention. So help us or, otherwise, just go away.
    Pay Attention, if you had read carefully what I wrote, You would have seen that I said, as Elaine (who can read) noted, I did not say Sun Tzu was not read, I said he is “ignored.” And, I also said that civilian planners oftentimes ignore the advice of their own generals (who might have attended West Point or The Army War College)….like Robert McNamara or Donald Rumsfelt did.

  9. emsnews

    They read Lawrence of Arabia’s ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ too and gain little to no wisdom from that book, too. Lawrence is quite clear that he BETRAYED his allies because of the secret protocols Britain had with the Rothschild banking consortium.

    This is ignored by lots and lots of people, of course. This is why, studying or reading something while wearing blinders, is so hilarious. People who profess a desire to understand then fight tooth and nail, any attempt at enlightenment even if the author is OBVIOUSLY TRYING VERY HARD to explain. I see this all the time, it is human nature which has to be overcome if we wish to absorb information.

  10. seraphim

    I just came back to watch this video. Great fun! What I loved most was your stress on the infantilism of the Amero’s (kick ass…etc). They are kids who skipped school, who did never homework, who wasted their time on the silly computer games where they always win (whoaaaaa!). The trouble really starts when computer “training” clashes with the reality of blood and torned limbs (and loss of them). Actually when the nincompoops face DEATH, the most certain reality of “Life”. I recently watched a documentary (still going on in the land of OZ – we just came to the third part) about the Operation Delta – the rescue of the hostages of the Teheran Embassy in the time of the Ayatollah Khomeiny). If someone wants to see a perfect illustration of Murphy’s Law I recommend it (Guests of the Ayatollah). Actually, the participants in the operation, interviewed in the program, invoke it by name!
    And yes, Napoleon confronted the “Bbbear”, thinking that it was a “dancing bear”, (the ones with the nose-ring that Gypsies make to dance in public places). The result is called Saint Helen (the island, of course). One must be concerned that kids conceived when watching TV and thereafter watching TV all their life would confuse the “friendly” bears (or any other animal) with the real thing. Or rather the other way round.

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  14. May 08, 2009

    “Why We Fight”

    “U.S. Troops Die For Rapists”

    “Remember this column the next time you watch a flag-draped coffin returning from Afghanistan. The young man inside that box didn’t die for nothing. He died to protect rapists”…


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