Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Joint Targeting Zen

Sometimes the most important part of the targeting cycle is deciding what targets not to engage to achieve the effects we want.
"It's possible (a strike) could be used to play to nationalist tendencies," Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command region, which includes Iran, said in an interview this week. "There is certainly a history, in other countries, of fairly autocratic regimes almost creating incidents that inflame nationalist sentiment. So that could be among the many different, second, third, or even fourth order effects (of a strike)." --Patraeus Says Strike on Iran Could Provoke Nationalism
The response of the British populace to The Blitz provides a good historical example of the kind of thing Gen Patraeus is describing.
Thirty spokes
Round one hub.
Employ the nothing inside
And you can use a cart.
Knead the clay to make a pot.
Employ the nothing inside
And you can use a pot.
Cut out doors and windows.
Employ the nothing inside
And you can use a room.
What is achieved is something,
By employing nothing it can be used.
--Tao Te Ching, 11


  1. Maybe we need some Foreign Aid Zen (link added):
    Think of all the dams and bridges and roads and other forms of infrastructure that have been funded by international aid money.

    But has foreign aid spending created prosperity in those countries? Usually not. Or maybe never. The money gets spent and then it’s over. The multiplier never materializes. And that’s because these economies are broken. They have lousy government. They have corrupt practices. They have stagnant labor markets. So the influx of money doesn’t create prosperity. It simply creates rent-seeking for the politically favored.

    From Does spending create prosperity?

  2. Open-ended American political goals, reliant on bombing as a key means to help realize them, play directly into the insurgent's hand and intensify the likelihood that he will wage a sporadic guerrilla war that American air-power is ill equipped to obstruct.

    Airpower can play a role in defeating such an enemy, but bombing is not the answer. Lethal airpower against insurgents works well only when they can be isolated from the "sea" of population in which they prefer to "swim." Against such a savvy opponent, those instances of isolation will be rarities. The nonlethal applications of airpower--specifically, airlift and reconnaissance--greatly enhance America's ability to fight insurgent enemies... The problem for American air chiefs [...] is that their default position for applying airpower is often its kinetic aspect.

    Forty-Five Years of Frustration: America’s Enduring Dilemma of Fighting Insurgents with Airpower