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DoubleQuotes in the wild

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — “found objects” as they call them in the art world, relating directly to my DoubleQuotes forrmat ]

Here’s a terrific example, visual with textual accompaniment, of the power of DoubleQuotes, and the spontaneous uses that others make of them:


The textual element is kindly provided in translation by this tweet from Will McCants:


I’ll be using this post as a place to capture other instances of DoubleQuotes in the wild, just as I’ve been using A feast of form in my twitter-stream today to capture and comment on a series of instances of recursion in the twittersphere.

Ramadan Mubarak…

News from the near blogosphere: I

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — listen up if you get the chance ]

It is possible that this post will reach some of you in time to tune in to this testimony:


I’m posting this here because I hope some of you will be able to watch this session live, but also because I think it’s indicative of a shift that is happening — and it’s a shift I’ve been hoping for and wanting to talk about here on Zenpundit. That shift has to do with the blogosphere, and to my mind it’s a very positive one.

I’ll have more on that later — but first, I wanted to get the word out about this session. More, hopefully, a few hours from now.

Heavy breathing on the line: The wheel of the mandala

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

[dots connected by Lynn C. Rees]



What did Lucius Aemilius Paullus know and when did he know it?

My teacher says:

  1. peace (sandhi)
  2. war (vigraha)
  3. observance of neutrality (ásana)
  4. marching (yána)
  5. alliance (samsraya)
  6. making peace with one and waging war with another

These are the six forms of state-policy.

But Vátavyádhi holds that there are only two forms of policy:

  1. peace 
  2. war

Inasmuch as the six forms result from these two primary forms of policy.

While Kautilya holds that as their respective conditions differ, the forms of policy are six.

Of these:

  1. agreement with pledges is peace
  2. offensive operation is war
  3. indifference is neutrality
  4. making preparations is marching
  5. seeking the protection of another is alliance
  6. making peace with one and waging war with another, is termed a double policy (dvaidhíbháva). 


These are the six forms.


  1. is inferior to another shall make peace with him
  2. is superior in power shall wage war
  3. thinks “no enemy can hurt me, nor am I strong enough to destroy my enemy,” shall observe neutrality
  4. is possessed of necessary means shall march against his enemy
  5. is devoid of necessary strength to defend himself shall seek the protection of another
  6. thinks that help is necessary to work out an end shall make peace with one and wage war with another.


Such is the aspect of the six forms of policy.

Of these, a wise king shall observe that form of policy which, in his opinion, enables him to build forts, to construct buildings and commercial roads, to open new plantations and villages, to exploit mines and timber and elephant forests, and at the same time to harass similar works of his enemy.

  1. Whoever thinks himself to be growing in power more rapidly both in quality and quantity (than his enemy), and the reverse of his enemy, may neglect his enemy’s progress for the time.
  2. If any two kings hostile to each other find the time of achieving the results of their respective works to be equal, they shall make peace with each other.
  3. No king shall keep that form of policy, which causes him the loss of profit from his own works, but which entails no such loss on the enemy; for it is deterioration.
  4. Whoever thinks that in the course of time his loss will be less than his acquisition as contrasted with that of his enemy, may neglect his temporary deterioration.
  5. If any two kings hostile to each other and deteriorating, expect to acquire equal amount of wealth in equal time, they shall make peace with each other.


A king who is situated between two powerful kings shall seek protection from

  • The stronger of the two
  • Or from one of them on whom he can rely
  • Or he may make peace with both of them on equal terms

Then he may begin to set one of them against the other by telling each that the other is a tyrant causing utter ruin to himself, and thus cause dissension between them.

When they are divided, he may:

  • Pat down each separately by secret or covert means
  • Or, throwing himself under the protection of any two immediate kings of considerable power, he may defend himself against an immediate enemy
  • Or, having made an alliance with a chief in a stronghold, he may adopt double policy (i.e., make peace with one of the two kings, and wage war with another)
  • Or, be may adapt himself to circumstances depending upon the causes of peace and war in order
  • Or, he may make friendship with traitors, enemies, and wild chiefs who are conspiring against both the kings
  • Or, pretending to be a close friend of one of them, he may strike the other at the latter’s weak point by employing enemies, and wild tribes
  • Or, having made friendship with both, he may form a Circle of States
  • Or, he may make an alliance with the madhyama or the neutral king; and with this help he may put down one of them or both
  • Or when hurt by both, he may seek protection from a king of righteous character among:
    • the madhyama king
    • the neutral king
    • their friends or equals
    • any other king whose subjects are so disposed as to increase his happiness and peace, with whose help he may be able to recover his lost position, with whom his ancestors were in close intimacy, or blood relationship, and in whose kingdom he can find a number of powerful friends

The near weak fear near strength more than far strength. The near weak fear near hurt more than far hurt.

Near strength fears far strength more than near strengthNear strength fears far hurt more than near hurt.

For the near weak, fear is near. For near strength, fear is far.

For the near weak, hurt is near. For near strength, hurt is far.

The near weak support far strength to keep near strength doing what they must. Near strength opposes far strength to keep the near weak doing what they must.

The near weak support far strength so the near week can start doing what they can. Near strength opposes far strength so near strength can keep doing what they can.

Winner: far strength consolidates near strength into more far strength at the behest of the near weak.

There is a tipping point between the dispersed strength that favors liberty and the consolidated strength that favors tyranny. Localizing power away from a global center is insufficient. More appeal hurt from private wrongs than public hurt from government. A consolidated local grudge is more tightly held than a dispersed global grudge. Words and activity in private law dwarf words and activity in public law.

The wheel turns.

Local gripes get appealed over the head of private social circle to local predominance of violent strength. Hope that distance makes the heart grow objective springs eternal.

The wheel turns.

If appeal to local predominance of power proves unsatisfactory, local gripes shop far and wide for a more amenable remote predominance of violence hopefully free of local bias.

While far power can be free of locally shared bias, it is never free of a globally shared bias in favor of opportunity. There is profit for the strong in the grievance of the weak.

The wheel turns.

The far power intervenes. Intervention opens doors. Local power is suppressed, often in the name of the powerless.

The wheel turns.

Locally strength and local weakness find themselves pureed equally together into a uniform goo of even consistency with insufficient roughage to effectively resist an emboldened center. And all this in spite or despite their local merits.

The wheel turns.

The wheel of the mandala as outlined in the Arthashastra veers toward consolidated strength. When tilt is sufficient, bandwagoning commences.

The wheel turns.

Opportunists driven by fear, honor, or profit pile on the winner’s bandwagon. Tilt becomes pronounced.

The alternative to wheeling in circles is balancing. Localization is useless if it only replaces consolidated far tyranny with dispersed near tyranny. That leaves the chief window of opportunity for a re-consolidation of power, the appeal by the locally weak to remote strength for help against local oppression, ajar and tempting to the aspiring entrepreneur of power.

The Public Thing (Latin: res publica) is not rule by numbers. It is rule by balance.

Balance of strength and balance of fear within the Public Thing are like turtles: they must go all the way down.

Strength must not only be dispersed but it must be balanced, globally and locally. Any power, local or global, must be countered, checked, balanced, opposed, resisted, and cultivated for vigor to pervade the Public Thing. As a symbol, the scales of justice capture the essence of the Public Thing than the ballot. While the Public Thing may be unrepresentative of the public, it is never unjust to the public.

If unjust, it becomes a mere thing.

Possession of passing plurality does not grant permanent license to tip the division of power and terror one way over the other. The eternal dynamics of the cycle of strength mean that every political participant, weak or strong, fearful or comfortable, will triangulate between countervailing strengths in search of institutionalized victory for themselves and cronies. This triangulation powers the forever spin of the wheel of the mandala as the six forms of political power are deployed as strength allows and opportunity beckons.

The Public Thing relies on habit and a robust division of power to keep strength and consolidation apart, the center from stagnant fragilizing, and the whole thing from catastrophic disintegration. The Public Thing is an covenant to keep the wheel of the mandala spinning at a speed safe enough for foot traffic. To do otherwise unleashes the escalatory logic of politics, speeding the spinning of the wheel of the mandala as increased and mutualized resort to violence leads to consolidation followed by fragmentation followed by consolidation followed by fragmentation.

The wheel turns.

You’ll shoot your eye out. Woe unto the world for liberation through disintegration. For it must needs be that liberation must come through disintegration but woe unto those who find themselves so liberated.

Agreements are fragile. Graveyards are full of public things. Their epitaph is the moral of the story: break a deal, face the wheel.

And that’s why the NSA records (meta)data on all Americans.

Recommended Reading – 100% Cyber Free Edition

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

[ Mark Safranski – a.k.a “zen“]

As you may have noted above, starting today I am following Charles, Scott and Lynn in adding my name to my posts. With four bloggers here and perhaps more to come in the future, it is becoming too confusing for occasional or new readers for me to continue to leave my posts “unsigned”.

Going to catch up now with the best of the non-cyber posts and articles of the last few weeks:

Top Billing! The National Interest (BJ Armstrong) – Mahan, the Forgotten Grand Strategist

Armstrong is also the editor of the newly published 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era. 

….Before Thomas P.M. Barnett ever introduced international relations theorists and futurists to the idea of the “core” and the “gap” nations, Mahan was writing about two groups of people in the world. Mahan suggested that advancements in the west “have extended the means whereby prosperity has increased manifold, as have the inequalities in material well-being existing between those within its borders and those without.” This, he believed, would result in conflict. Globalization and the technological development of the West certainly had increased the standard of living of most Americans and Europeans, but Mahan knew that the economic difficulties of the rest of the world were just as important to the international order.

Mahan recognized the “inequalities” could cause conflict and he warned that “those who want will take, if they can … for the simple reason that they have not, that they desire, and that they are able.” The challenge to international order was something Mahan foresaw, despite the fact that thinkers like Normal Angell were writing that globalization would mean the end of war. Other writers during his time believed that since economic difficulties were shared challenges they would balance one another. Mahan, on the other hand, realized these challenges would be shared unequally, and inequality was only going to add to international instability and stoke the fires of conflict. 

John Hagel– Strategy Made Simple – The 3 Core Strategy Questions 

The ultimate goal of differentiation is to avoid direct confrontation with our competitors. In the words of SunTzu and The Art of War, if we have to engage the enemy in battle, then we’ve already lost. If there’s any uncertainty about why we are different, we won’t be able to focus effectively and we’ll be fighting an uphill battle to gain and sustain the attention of our audience.

Of course, differentiation has always been important to success in any environment.  What’s different now is that people face an exponentially increasing array of alternatives.  They have more information and more ability to switch across as larger and larger array of options. In a world of power laws, we’re competing not only with the blockbusters in the head of the power curve, but an ever expanding long tail of options that are able to serve very narrow niches. That’s why it’s more critical than ever to be able to answer this question clearly and compellingly, for ourselves and the people we want to reach.

War on the Rocks has been launched!!!! Congrats to the gents involved.

War on the Rocks is a web publication that serves as a platform for analysis, commentary, and debate on foreign policy and national security issues through a realist lens. It will feature articles and podcasts produced by an array of writers with deep experience in these matters: top notch scholars who study war, those who have served or worked in war zones, and more than a few who have done it all.


Washington Times (Brahma Chellaney): Afghanistan’s Looming Partition 

Chellaney is a national security/strategy eminence grise in India. Read this op-ed as Indian elite alarm over America’s pending withdrawal from Afghanistan that might leave Kabul a Taliban dominated, anti-Indian, ISI satrapy. Note a “Greater Pushtunistan” would leave Pakistan a rump Punjabistan plus Sind.

….Foreign military intervention can effect regime change, but it evidently cannot re-establish order based on centralized government. Iraq has been partitioned in all but name into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions, while Libya seems headed toward a similar tripartite, tribal-based territorial arrangement. In Afghanistan, too, an Iraq-style “soft” partition may be the best possible outcome.

Afghanistan’s large ethnic-minority groups already enjoy de facto autonomy, which they secured after their Northern Alliance played a central role in the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban from power in late 2001. Having enjoyed virtual self-rule since then, they will fiercely resist falling back under the sway of the Pashtuns, who ruled the country for most of its history.

For their part, the Pashtuns, despite their tribal divisions, will not be content with control of a rump Afghanistan consisting of its current eastern and southeastern provinces. They will eventually seek integration with fellow Pushtuns in Pakistan, across the British-drawn Durand Line — a border that Afghanistan has never recognized. The demand for a “Greater Pashtunistan” would then challenge the territorial integrity of Pakistan (itself another artificial imperial construct).

Dr. Tdaxp –Review of “America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come ,” by James Bennett and Michael Lotus 

….What keeps America 3.0 from being simply an economic-determinist, however, is Jim Bennett’s focus on the Anglosphere, and particularly Lotus’ and Bennett’s theory of what makes English-speaking countries nearly unique in the world: the “Absolute Nuclear Family” and the Common Law. According to America 3.0, this style of family is shared between English speaking countries, and some areas of Denmark and the Netherlands where the Anglo-Saxon-Jute peoples were active fifteen centuries ago. The Common Law, a result of the eradication of Roman Law and subsequent British hostility to the re-imposition of the Roman-based Laws latter (partially as a result for how Roman Law conflicts with the Absolute Nuclear Family type), also creates a difference.

….The standard economic-determinist answer to the important of economic foundation is “a whole lot.” This makes sense to me. We’re still a way from a scientific study of history — a cliodynamical analysis of the role of steam, say, in American history — but all-in-all I found this part of the book to be insightful and non-controversial. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy all differed on many things, but all agreed on the importance of economies of scale, which were themselves clearly enabled by steam.

Maggie’s Farm –What could have beens in Vietnam

SWJ – Economic and Religious Influencers in the Era of Population-centric Warfare 

America 3.0 Are Breitbart.com’s Standards Falling Down?

Not the Singularity – Then they Came for your Snail Mail

Ribbonfarm –Players versus Spectators 

Slightly East of New – New Edition of the Origins of Boyd’s Discourse 

Scholar’s Stage – Rise of the West: Asking the Right Questions

Slouching Toward Columbia – On Reappraising the Civil War

The Glittering Eye –Defining Genocide Down 

Campaign Reboot –Constraining Creativity 

The American Thinker- The Fall of the Humanities

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