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October 18, 2010

Comments

Vincent Bataoel

The heart of this article is in the right place, but I challenge whether or not their favorite hedgehog is a new or great idea. Coercion as in control as in a guy with a gun to your nuts is not a groundbreaking concept. It is, like other overtly force-related strategies, a band-aid fix for a gaping wound. Yes, coercive control inhibits loss, but it does not establish a winning position. I believe, with no degree of fervency, that the root of the issue is in the definition of victory. The authors allude to this, but do not take it up with any penetrative detail. I have my own thoughts on what victory means, but to keep it brief let me just ask the forum here the question: is coercion an instrument of victory or is it an instrument of inhibition of loss? And can everybody understand the difference?

Joseph Fouche

The hedgehog in question in this article is control. Coercion, violence, or "overtly force-related strategies" constitute only a subset of the degrees of control that a human being may seek. Control isn't even merely a matter of strategy. The tactician strives to achieve tactical control. The operator strives to achieve operational control through the accumulation of tactical control. The strategist seeks to achieve strategic control through the accumulation of operational control. The politician seeks to achieve political control through the accumulation of strategic control. The kulturist seeks to achieve cultural control through the accumulation of political control.

J.C. Wylie, whose work this article largely recapitulates, explicitly laid out a strategic theory that was broader than military or violent applications. It ranges from passive influence through absolute annihilation and from war to peace.

A.E.

I am shellacked by work right now, but I want to go into greater detail on this article later. It is very interesting, and while there are disagreeable elements (especially the characterization of Clausewitz) it is still of great import.

Vincent Bataoel

Thanks Fouche, I didn't get that bigger picture from my reading of the Hedgehog piece.

A.E.

It's all based in the Wylie :)

Joseph Fouche

One question that would be useful to raise at a Boyd gathering: what did Boyd think of Wylie? The Patterns of Conflict source list includes Wylie's Military Strategy.

A.E.

I think that's a good subject of a future paper!

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