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Archive for June 10th, 2007

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

RECOMMENDED READING

A Sunday line-up.

Ideas – “Loaded Dice: How to bias research

Secrecy News – “ODNI Document Suggests a Larger Intelligence Budget

In From The Cold - “Mr. Putin’s Not-So-Serious Offer

Middle East Perspectives -”New Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

Pacific Empire - “How to overthrow your government

Duck of Minerva – “Rome on the Potomac

That’s it.

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Sunday, June 10th, 2007

THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN AN ACT OF PIRACY AND JUST SIMPLY TAKING SOME INITIATIVE

A fascinating economics paper sent to me by Fabius Maximus (hat tip accorded) that took me a few days to get to reading. Wish I had looked at it earlier:

An-arrgh-chy: The Law and economics of Pirate Organizations” (PDF) by Dr. Peter T. Leeson

Peterson argues that historical pirates, far from being Hobbesian outlaws, governed themselves with rule-sets that minimized conflict and maximized cooperation and profit ( albeit at the expense of civilized seafaring states). Looking at broad principles of functionality, Leeson’s work is applicable to other violent non-state actors – Latin American drug cartels, 4GW insurgencies and terror networks, warlord and sectarian militias, Bunker’s 3 Gen gangs, TOC groups like Chinese Triads and Russian mafiya and so on.

This argument struck a chord with me on two points. First, it mirrors the historical experience of traditional Russian banditry where robber chieftains ruled over there fellows according to “Thieves Law”, something Solzhenitsyn discusses at length in The Gulag Archipelago.

Secondly, network theory research indicates that small systems that seem chaotic or “noisy” actually develop emergent rule-sets that bring the system into an orderly pattern, even if the rules and patterns are very simple ones. A pirate ship, even a fleet, much like a terrorist network, is simply a small, complex, social network. Rules accepted on a consensual basis cut down on ” noise” and allow the network to become more efficient.

A must read.

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