Skip to content

It’s complex, not complicated –or is it?

Complicated, Complex and Chaotic

Mike Farrell

The Second Coming By William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Soldiers should probably never turn to poetry as a way of explaining reality – the life of a soldier is ultimately based on fairly simple things. Yet, reality is quite a bit different, and the reality that we navigate today is pretty much one thing if only that –NOT SIMPLE.  This makes the easy solution not so easy as we might like…

A recent series of articles in the NEW YORK TIMES have pointed the way to at least grasping the problem.  David Segal’s article on the complex versus the complicated in the May 2 Times Week in Review provides a really superb picture of how bizarre the world can become.  And yet, human beings are hardwired to prefer the simple to the complex…(

Segal’s article cites the McCrystal Rosetta Stone, the spaghetti PowerPoint that explains how Afghanistan got so screwed up and how to fix it. As the general pointed out after looking at it, if we can understand it, we win the war.  Of course, we don’t understand it – our logic tells us that if we can find the right axis, the right spot to leverage our power – combat, intelligence, economic, diplomatic, anthropological – we can change the entire complexion.  However, our logic may be letting us down; there may be no single spot to exert leverage;   we may have to  simultaneously exert leverage in different levels and directions or in some alchemical sequence to win, or at least not lose or at least, not lose too badly.  I suspect that much like Colonel Harry Summers famous understanding of Vietnam, we won’t understand it until it’s over, and we’ve had a chance to figure it out. ( And, not unlike Summers’ experience with Giap, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if what we think we did or didn’t do is ultimately irrelevant.

( )

The Magic PowerPoint as shown in Elizabeth Bumiller’s Times Article on PowerPoint

Segal’s article address the root of our issues in some ways – we are limited in our ability to learn. There are lots of examples – I was recently watching a marvelous video from the New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Fest of Susan Tedeschi and the Derek Trucks Band playing an old Junior Wells and Buddy Guy song, Little By Little.  As a musician, I was seriously taken by the playing and was trying to figure out just what she was doing – at one point, she took her left hand off the guitar and shook out her fingers, then took her pick in her right hand and put it in her mouth and then played a part of her solo with her thumb and fingers for a measure or two – then she took the pick out of her mouth and continued playing. Never missed a beat, never hit a wrong note. (Hey, there’s some music to listen to until you get to the point I’m talking about, but bear with it…best female blues singer currently working and the best slide guitarist currently playing and a very tight band…

Ok, what happened there? Nothing that doesn’t happen a lot to guitarists – their fingers cramp slightly. Susan’s been playing smoking blues guitar for a while now; guitarists are vulnerable to carpal tunnel as well as typists, clam diggers and welders. Same probably with the pick – the dangers lie  in ignoring what happened or in placing entirely too much significance into what we observe.  Sometimes, a cigar is just a good damn cigar…and sometimes, it explodes.

The problems we face in understanding the world and then doing something are compounded by the problems of the complicated versus the complex.  At first, I thought Segal was just playing sematic games, but after a few seconds reflection, I realized that his insight was pretty profound.  He points out that some things are complicated – I understand how the internal combustion engine works, sort of; I have no clue how to rebuild the fuel injection on my 2008 Mustang GT. Actually, I’m not even sure I can find it – but, I love that car. I had a 1989 GT that had an engine I understood really well ; you opened up the hood and there it was. It didn’t have antilock brakes or traction control, and was a bitch in everything except dry pavement.  In fact, there was one corner between my home and Fort Lewis that always guaranteed a fishtailing slip slide and away, regardless of road conditions or speed or how I handled the clutch or what I was doing with the gas.  The car was too complicated to drive there but I could probably repair it if I needed to; the new one is far less complicated to drive, but impossible for me to repair if I need to.

This is not all that dissimilar to the problems in Afghanistan, or Iraq. Desert Storm was relatively simple;  retaliation for 9/11 was relatively simple; everything since Tora Bora and Secretary of State Powell’s speech to the UN has been complicated. All the attempts to wrap them up in catch-phrases or slogans or talking points have contributed solely to background noise. It’s complicated and we have yet to agree as to what we’re trying to do…which adds a helluva lot of complexity to a complex situation.

It’s worth digressing to health care reform and the Tea Party Movement.  Although I can feel a great deal of sympathy for these folks,  the various nonsensical things that have come out of it alternately amaze, amuse, or plain piss the old Top Sergeant off. The health care mess is incredible and has been for years. For a group of people to complain about “Keeping your government hands off my healthcare” is to complain not just about the Medicare or the VA or the Tricare that so many of them have; it’s to complain about the FDA and standards for hygiene and sanitation, and new devices and medicines funded by the National Institute of Health or the Center for Disease Control.  Of course, the best solution is some sort of single payer system or single schedule of fees and reimbursements; what we are ultimately talking about is not a bureaucrat taking your temperature, but a bureaucrat approving a funds transfer to your doctor. Which is what insurance companies do, or actually, try not to do.

Another place we the complicated versus the complex is facing us while laughing evilly is in the Gulf of Mexico and the whole issue of off shore drilling. Every time someone tries to make the reality reduce to a catch phrase – The Wetlands! versus Drill Baby Drill! – we get bit. Compromise between positions is impossible, so it might help to stake out new positions. President Obama tried to, and then complicated technology bit him on the ass. While it appears that British Petroleum might have avoided this with a few more safety features and better blow off valves and more redundancy, the fact is they didn’t. There’s a balancing act between safety, cost, environment and energy going on, and our failure to see the complexity of the issues while lost in the complications and the catch phrases will haunt us and our grandchildren. (Actually, having no children, it will haunt your grandchildren…)

Segal points out that there is a conceptual difference between complicated and complex.  Trying to reduce the complicated Yin and Yang of Afghanistan Strategy to something simple, A+B=C, is to miss the point in a world where A+B=F9*Dog or some other absurdity.  However, defining goals and objectives in simple terms, establishing order in the face of complexity, is critical. The solutions are not simple, but the goals should be.

It’s really as simple process. Take a big hairy goal, like “Ensuring that all Americans have access to healthcare that is affordable, effective and efficient,” and figure out what that means. The statement is simple, the complexities are huge.  Do I, as a citizen, have an absolute right to Viagra if I need it? Shudder to think of the complicated issues that need to be defined.

But, if we don’t define the damn things, we’re ultimately screwed.  That wire diagram for Victory in  Afghanistan exists for lots of reasons, most of them bad. However, the situation it describes is real – and for every situation we get into that evolves to that point, there’s a concrete failure to deal with complexity first.  It’s one of old Stephen – Highly Effective Everything – Covey’s first Seven Habits. Begin with the end in mind; define what good is; describe what success looks like. Then we can argue about the techniques to get there.

Undoubtedly, McCrystal was being ironic and honest in his comment.  The problem is that before we figure  the sonofabitch out, a lot more people will die and many more ill effects will loose upon the world.  If it seems at times like anarchy, it is. The anarchy of reality…

View the original article at Veterans Today

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in War on terror.

Tagged with , , .

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's all happening now big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale". This site must be on some list at GCHQ/NSA as my AdSense revenue which I rely on has gone down by a third. Either people are not helping out by visiting sponsors sanymore or I am being blackballed like many YouTube sites.

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally I know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know some people in prison now for the content they had on their "secret private group". Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. If you really need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA/GCHQ to hack into. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and that the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install or other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day - your smart phone. If you are paranoid ensure that you can remove the battery when travelling around and do so to prevent GPS tracking or phone mast triangulation. Even with your phone in Flight mode or turned off, it can be turned on remotely and any features like front or back cameras, microphones and keylogging software can be installed to trace you.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering rubbish) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.


Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?