America’s Resource Curse, by Eamon McKinney

Ample resources devoted to a problem sometimes don’t solve it, they make it worse. From Eamon McKinney at strategic-culture.org:

As with Americas war on drugs, war on crime, war on poverty, all resources do is obscure the underlying problem and present false solutions.

It was some twenty years after the end of the Vietnam war that a security conference was held between leading military figures from both America and Vietnam. Following the conference a U.S. Air Force General approached a Vietnamese General. The American had been a fighter pilot captain during the conflict, the Vietnamese general had been a Colonel in the N.V.A. The American asked (paraphrasing): “You have to tell me, we knew your Army was continually crossing the Mekong, we flew sorties up and down the river and could never find your bridges.” “I know,” said the Vietnamese, “we built them three feet under water.”

In that instant the American understood why America lost the war. His “Road to Damascus” moment was informed by how the different combatants approached problems. Had that been an American problem, how an Army crosses a wide, deep and fast flowing river, they would have solved the problem differently. They would have built a suspension bridge, they would have had bases on either side to protect it. They would have had Bowling alleys and Burger Kings and would have been flying in Bob Hope to entertain the troops. Why? Because they could, when you have resources they become the answer to every problem. The Vietnamese didn’t have resources, so they were resourceful.

And that, as the American realized, was why the Vietnamese won, and America lost.

The general may have learned a lesson, but if he told anyone, no one listened. Many of the same mistakes were repeated in Afghanistan, with the same results. Resources are not the answer to every problem. As with Americas war on drugs, war on crime, war on poverty, all resources do is obscure the underlying problem and present false, ineffective solutions.

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