Tag Archives: failure

The Iraq War Anniversary Should Remind Us the War on Terror Failed, by Julia Gledhill

The US foreign policy establishment, or Blob, is number one in the world at doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result (Einstein’s definition of insanity). From Julia Gledhill at defenseone.com:

We must start to correct course now by repealing the 2002 AUMF.

The Iraq War began 18 years ago on a quiet night in Washington: March 19, 2003.

Domestically, the Bush administration justified the Iraq invasion under the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, which allowed the president to “defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and to “enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”

The 2002 AUMF notwithstanding, many argue that the lengthy, bitterly fought war was illegal under international law. In any case, successive presidents have reinterpreted the 2002 legislation to justify military actions that Congress never authorized, let alone contemplated. Perhaps the most egregious of these was in January 2020 when the Trump administration cited it as authority for the targeted killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani. The drone strike killed nine other people as well as the general.

No matter who is in the Oval Office, the 2002 Iraq AUMF remains vulnerable to presidential abuse. Thankfully, Congress finally seems in a place to repeal it. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., recently promised to take up Rep. Barbara Lee’s, D-Calif., bill to repeal the authorization this month. In the Senate, Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Todd Young, R-Ind., recently introduced a repeal bill supported by a bipartisan group of senators.

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EU’s Covid-19 Vaccination Debacle: “Epochal Failure” by Soeren Kern

The Covid-19 vaccine rollout supervised by the EU has given that institution a huge black eye, and make’s Brexiting Britain look pretty darn smart. From Soeren Kern at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • The vaccination rollout has been plagued by bureaucratic sclerosis, poorly-negotiated contracts, penny-pinching and blame shifting — all wrapped in a shroud of secrecy. The result is a needless and embarrassing shortage of vaccines, and yet another a crisis of legitimacy for the EU.
  • “The European Commission ordered too late, limited its focus to only a few pharmaceutical companies, agreed on a price in a typically bureaucratic EU manner and completely underestimated the fundamental importance of the situation. We now have a situation where grandchildren in Israel are already vaccinated but the grandparents here are still waiting. That’s just completely wrong.” — Markus Söder, Bavarian premier and possible future German chancellor.
  • “I now fear that the European Union will find itself in the impossible situation of having to prolong some of the existing [Covid-19] restrictions beyond the summer, while both Britain and the United States start to normalize. That is the cost of the vaccine delays: a very high cost in lives, prestige and further economic losses.” — Bruno Maçães, political scientist and former Portuguese Europe Minister.
  • “The commission decided to aggrandize its competence and it wasn’t up to the job — it didn’t have the right people or the right skills.” — Adrian Wooldridge, political editor, The Economist.
  • “In the dispute over the delivery delay of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the EU Commission is currently making the best advertisement for Brexit: It is acting slowly, bureaucratically and protectionist. And if something goes wrong, it’s everyone else’s fault.” — Bettina Schulz, commentator, Die Zeit.
The EU’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign rollout has been plagued by bureaucratic sclerosis, poorly-negotiated contracts, penny-pinching and blame shifting, resulting in a needless and embarrassing shortage of vaccines. Pictured: People await their vaccination at the Robert-Bosch hospital in Stuttgart, Germany on February 12, 2021. (Photo by Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images)

The European Union’s much-touted campaign to vaccinate 450 million Europeans against Covid-19 has gotten off to an inauspicious start. The vaccination rollout has been plagued by bureaucratic sclerosis, poorly-negotiated contracts, penny-pinching and blame shifting — all wrapped in a shroud of secrecy. The result is a needless and embarrassing shortage of vaccines, and yet another a crisis of legitimacy for the EU.

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The ‘Glass Floor’ Is Keeping America’s Richest Idiots At The Top, by Michael Hobbes

Some children are too rich to fail and too spoiled to succeed. From Michael Hobbes at huffpost.com:

In 2014, Zach Dell launched a dating app called Thread. It was nearly identical to Tinder: Users created a profile, uploaded photos and swiped through potential matches.

The only twist on the formula was that Thread was restricted to university students and explicitly designed to produce relationships rather than hookups. The app’s tagline was “Stay Classy.”

Zach Dell is the son of billionaire tech magnate Michael Dell. Though he told reporters that he wasn’t relying on family money, Thread’s early investors included a number of his father’s friends, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

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Socialism Destroys, by John Stossel

Just because you put the word “Democratic” in front of socialism doesn’t make socialism any better than the failure it has repeatedly been. From John Stossel at theburningplatform.com:

Socialism is hot.

Famous actors recently made a commercial proclaiming that “democratic socialism” creates some of the best parts of America. It’s “your kids’ public school” (says Susan Sarandon), the “interstate highway system” (Rosario Dawson), “public libraries” (Jay Ferguson), “EMTs” (Ethan Embry), “workers who plow our streets” (Max Carver) and “scientists” (Danny DeVito).

Wow. I guess every popular thing government does is socialism.

The celebrities conclude: “We can do better when we do them together.”

There is sometimes truth to that, but the movie stars don’t know that America’s first highways were built by capitalist contractors. They also probably didn’t notice that the more popular parts of government — public schools, EMTs, snow plowing, libraries, etc. — are largely locally funded.

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Overheard in the Land of the Free, by Simon Black

When did America become a land where people didn’t take chances because they might fail? From Simon Black at sovereignman. com:

When I was in Texas over the weekend taking a quick break from a whirlwind trip around the world, I went to one of the biggest shopping malls in Dallas to buy a birthday present for the CFO of our agriculture business.

The mall is called the Galleria, and it’s particularly interesting for shoppers because it has an ice-skating rink on the ground floor.

An ice rink might not sound like a big deal, but in a state like Texas that’s legendary for sweltering heat, it’s still quite a novelty.

Kids especially love the ice, and it’s common to hear them begging mom and dad for a 30 minute skate pass.

I was standing on a terrace overlooking the rink on Friday, busy firing off some emails to my staff, when I overheard one such conversation.

It didn’t even register until I heard the mother say, “Kaden- you can’t go ice skating… you might fall down!”

The words immediately passed through my mental filter as if someone had just shouted out my name across the food court.

You might fall down? Duh. It’s a ten-year old boy on ice skates. Of course he’s going to fall down.

I’m really not sure when this happened. I’m nearly 38, so I grew up in the 80s and early 90s.

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to ride our bikes all over town by ourselves until it was dark.

Today that would be enough for our parents to be arrested… or at least paid a visit by Child Protective Services.

My friends and I chased each other around and played that occasionally got rough.

Now even ‘Tag’ has been outlawed in countless school districts who consider the game physically and emotionally distressing to children.

I only remember having to have a few inoculations as a child.

The CDC website doesn’t go back to the 1980s, but it does show that in 1995, the government only endorsed shots against five diseases for children.

Today it’s 14, and the actual number of shots has soared.

Again, I don’t know precisely when any of this changed. But it’s painfully obvious how different things are now for kids.

Major cultural changes like this always start in the home with what parents teach their children… as in, “Kaden, you might fall down.”

What is the big lesson that this child is learning? Because, “Kaden, you might fall down,” could just as easily be, “Kaden, you aren’t allowed to take any risks or try anything that’s new and challenging.”

Risk taking is supposed to be part of the American DNA. The US is supposed to be the country that rises to major challenges.

And there’s certainly no shortage of challenges now.

The national debt now stands at $19.8 trillion. Social Security and Medicare are woefully unfunded, and many other government trust funds are flat broke.

The Federal Reserve has printed itself into near insolvency and created massive financial bubbles around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations now exist, debilitating small businesses and creating extraordinary disincentives to produce.

Socialist dogma is growing stronger. The top 25% of income earners in the US already pay more than 80% of the taxes. And yet the bottom 50% wants you to pay even more of your ‘fair share’.

It’s madness.

Being comfortable with major challenges and risk taking is more important than ever. And they’re a big part of any individual’s success in life.

To continue reading: Overheard in the Land of the Free


Reviving Napoleon’s Army, by Fred Reed

Fred Reed hits this one 325 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. From Reed at antiwar.com:

It is curious how little military men know about war. You would think they would think about it more. Yet, oddly, they regularly misjudge practically everything concerning the dismal trade. Their errors are not the sort that inevitably must occur in a contest, as when a quarterback doesn’t pick up a blitz. They are fundamental misappreciations of war itself.

The foregoing sounds both arrogant and improbable, like saying that dentists do not understand teeth. Actually it is neither.

The reasons are several. First, the military attracts certain kinds of men – authoritarian, hierarchical, conformist – who are not imaginative and do not think independently. Second, the appeal of the military is visceral, emotional, hormonal. Neither of these things is true of dentists.

This explains why wars monotonously turn out not to resemble expectations. In WWI, the German command expected a lightning victory via the Schlieffen Plan. It failed, but the foolishness does not lie in the failure. Rather it is in the complete incapacity to foresee that the failure would result in four years of inconclusive static war. Trenches, barbed wire, and machine guns took them by surprise. Yet the existence of all of these things was well known.

This sort of blindness is common, almost normal. At First Manassas in the American Civil War, the armies had no faint idea that they might be embarking on four years of horrendous war, or of the kind of war it would be. When America invaded Vietnam, the Pentagon did not foresee ten years of a losing war. Nor did it have any notion of what would happen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Militaries regularly underestimate the enemy and overestimate their own capacities. The reasons I think are several. One is that morale is important in war and a sober estimation of reality often does not conduce to high morale. For example, you do not tell your troops, “You are mediocre infantry and inferior man for man to the enemy but we have better technology and will rely on this.” Thus American troops are always the finest, best trained and best armed the world has ever seen.

To continue reading: Reviving Napoleon’s Army

On Failure, by Robert Gore

The lives of men and women who rise to the top of their fields are replete with…failure. The best hitters in baseball trudge back to the dugout six out of ten times. Basketball’s high scorers miss half their shots. Several rockets blew up before the US put a man on the moon. Only a small percentage of Edison’s experiments yielded useful inventions. Despite years of deep theorizing, Einstein never came up with a unified field theory. Doesn’t all this suggest that failure may be essential for success, and the odium with which it’s tainted undeserved?

Evolution, science, and markets are instructive. Nature throws blobs of genetic variation at the wall and sees what sticks. For every mutation that increases a specie’s chances for survival via natural selection, there are thousands that either have no effect or are detrimental.

In the same vein, science is basically a series of better errors. Somebody comes up with a theory that seems to describe reality more accurately and has more predictive power than the generally accepted theory. Everybody takes their theoretical and empirical potshots, and if the theory is still standing it becomes the standard…until somebody finds a hole in it and the progression plays out again. Logically, there can be no enshrined truths in science (other than that there are no enshrined truths), only hypotheses and theories open to question and subject to disproof, but never conclusively confirmed for time and all eternity.

American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics and National Sugar Refining were all in the Fortune 500 in 1955. None of them exist today. Of that Fortune 500, only 61 were still around 60 years later. That’s economist Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction,” the ceaseless roiling of the competitive landscape in a healthy (i.e., capitalistic) economy that destroys some businesses and elevates others, but places none on a permanent plateau. Successful people in business know in their bones this catechism: try, fail, admit, analyze, get up, try again.

Confusion is failure’s kissing cousin and also receives a bad rap. It should get better press, if for no other reason than that it promotes thought. When we’re confused, we try to figure things out. Why does the apple fall towards the earth instead of the sky? Never underestimate the power of a question. Extracting sense from confusion has led to humanity’s most important breakthroughs.

Governments’ failures have deleterious differences with private sector failure. Fail enough in business or research and your funding dries up. Those who fund government have no say in whether programs are continued or terminated. Failure in government is an open and shut case for more funding, which is why decades-long failures like the wars on poverty, drugs, and terrorism receive larger appropriations every budget cycle. A Washington-declared war on anything elicits tears of joy from even the most hardened political cynics. Such “wars” are opened-ended, having no operative definition of success or failure (either of which should logically end the war). Once the enabling legislation and appropriations are passed, manna flows forever. The occasional “austerity pinch” only slows its growth rate, but never leads to an actual reduction in funding.

Failure builds constituencies like nursing sows attract piglets. The interactions between the government and its sucklings are odious and there’s no shortage of commentators decrying them. What’s sometimes overlooked in the commentary on this barter of payola and power are its psychological elements, particularly the role of egos. Those who go into politics want power, but many want prestige, recognition, and their asses smooched even more. Those desires are hallmarks of psychological frailty, a brittle vulnerability. Although government constantly fails, any acknowledgment of such inflicts unacceptable psychic pain on these tender egos. The annals of American politics and government contain very few admissions of error. John F. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs mea culpa is a rare exception. Politicians and bureaucrats have made the unapologetic apology an art form.

I’m sorry if my actions created the perception that I acted in a manner that does not comport with the high standards I set for myself and which you justifiably expect me to maintain. Mistakes were perhaps made, and my team is investigating the matter to determine what, if anything, went wrong. To address those perceptions, I will act on its recommendations in furtherance of those high standards I have always set for myself and which you expect from me. It’s time for us to move on, and for me to get back to work maintaining high standards. Thank you.

The kind of straightforward admission, acknowledgment, apology, and correction that many of us make at least once a week is rarer in Washington than a balanced budget, locking in failure. With supposedly the best military on the planet and trillions of dollars spent, the US hasn’t cleanly won a war since 1945. Anybody responsible? Nope. The architects of the Federal Reserve’s disastrous policy of promoting speculative booms and increasingly destructive busts get six-figure fees for speeches nobody listens to, and the current ineptocrat will enjoy comparable rewards when she steps down. The future generations expected to bear the burden of the government’s mound of debt and its pension and medical promises are either debt serfs or debt slaves. A convention of politicians, bureaucrats, and voters who admit any guilt for their servitude could be held in a broom closet.

The most overrated condition of human existence is order. It’s a word that governments and those who run them cherish. Confusion, experimentation, failure, and ultimately, progress, are messy things, threatening established orders, vested and corrupt interests, and fragile egos.

There is no bigger oxymoron than “government science.” Science is a search for truth, and governments suppress truth. Is the globe warming? If so, is that warming caused by human activity? Both are scientific questions requiring years of data and analysis, for which there will never be 100 percent conclusive answers. The righteous certainty on both sides of these unsettled questions is the antithesis of science. When one side is backed by most of the world’s governments and an agenda that promotes only approved research and researchers—and a substantial expansion of global governance and control—honest experimentation and failure admission is inconceivable and the emergence of truth impossible.

Government, the most failure-prone institution, is the least likely to either admit or correct its failures, which only compounds them. “Complexity” is the smokescreen of the mandarins. Simple but correct conclusions—it’s not working—are derided as simplistic. Only a small elite, many of whom have little actual experience in the real world they purport to control, supposedly have the required insight, understanding, and brilliance. Meanwhile, unacknowledged failure has compounded and we’ve slid into the abyss of gargantuan, global, systemic failure.

It’s just that simple.



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He Said That? 8/5/15

From novelist Joseph Heller:

Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success comes drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure.

Financial collapse leads to war, by Dmitry Orlov

Only in the bizarro-world we are in does this article make sense, but make sense it does, sadly. From Dmitry Orlov at cluborlov.blogspot.com:

Scanning the headlines in the western mainstream press, and then peering behind the one-way mirror to compare that to the actual goings-on, one can’t but get the impression that America’s propagandists, and all those who follow in their wake, are struggling with all their might to concoct rationales for military action of one sort or another, be it supplying weapons to the largely defunct Ukrainian military, or staging parades of US military hardware and troops in the almost completely Russian town of Narva, in Estonia, a few hundred meters away from the Russian border, or putting US “advisers” in harm’s way in parts of Iraq mostly controlled by Islamic militants.

The strenuous efforts to whip up Cold War-like hysteria in the face of an otherwise preoccupied and essentially passive Russia seems out of all proportion to the actual military threat Russia poses. (Yes, volunteers and ammo do filter into Ukraine across the Russian border, but that’s about it.) Further south, the efforts to topple the government of Syria by aiding and arming Islamist radicals seem to be backfiring nicely. But that’s the pattern, isn’t it? What US military involvement in recent memory hasn’t resulted in a fiasco? Maybe failure is not just an option, but more of a requirement?

Let’s review. Afghanistan, after the longest military campaign in US history, is being handed back to the Taliban. Iraq no longer exists as a sovereign nation, but has fractured into three pieces, one of them controlled by radical Islamists. Egypt has been democratically reformed into a military dictatorship. Libya is a defunct state in the middle of a civil war. The Ukraine will soon be in a similar state; it has been reduced to pauper status in record time—less than a year. A recent government overthrow has caused Yemen to stop being US-friendly. Closer to home, things are going so well in the US-dominated Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that they have produced a flood of refugees, all trying to get into the US in the hopes of finding any sort of sanctuary.

Looking at this broad landscape of failure, there are two ways to interpret it. One is that the US officialdom is the most incompetent one imaginable, and can’t ever get anything right. But another is that they do not succeed for a distinctly different reason: they don’t succeed because results don’t matter. You see, if failure were a problem, then there would be some sort of pressure coming from somewhere or other within the establishment, and that pressure to succeed might sporadically give rise to improved performance, leading to at least a few instances of success. But if in fact failure is no problem at all, and if instead there was some sort of pressure to fail, then we would see exactly what we do see.

In fact, a point can be made that it is the limited scope of failure that is the problem. This would explain the recent saber-rattling in the direction of Russia, accusing it of imperial ambitions (Russia is not interested in territorial gains), demonizing Vladimir Putin (who is effective and popular) and behaving provocatively along Russia’s various borders (leaving Russia vaguely insulted but generally unconcerned). It can be argued that all the previous victims of US foreign policy—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, even the Ukraine—are too small to produce failure writ large enough to satisfy America’s appetite for failure. Russia, on the other hand, especially when incentivized by thinking that it is standing up to some sort of new, American-style fascism, has the ability to deliver to the US a foreign policy failure that will dwarf all the previous ones.


To continue reading: Financial collapse leads to war