The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Design Margin

As he almost always does, Richard Fernandez gets the the heart of the matter when he writes about the war in Ukraine and Biden administration response. 

Consider how many miscalculations both sides have already made to get us to this point; inevitably as we miscalculated in the past so we will in the future. Bearing this in mind, the West’s grand strategy ought to build fault tolerance and focus on the basics. The obvious place to start is to get the energy house in order, the borders under control, and the critical industries back where they belong. Washington ought to plan as if it’s going to be a long war, not something that will be settled before the midterms.

The Guardian called the Biden administration the “cursed presidency” and that’s not probably not just due to bad luck. Historically, disaster came in flurries. In the bible they are called conquest, pestilence, famine and death — the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The secular explanation for this clustering is that disaster begets disaster. Society runs out of design margin. Things fall apart. Imagine if politicians squandered public money, closed down domestic energy industries, and bought instead from despots who used the funds to prepare for Conquest. Imagine further a Pestilence out of China wrecking the supply chain; then War could break out on a weakened world and ruin the wheat harvest and unleash Famine. You would have the Four Horsemen complete. Alas no one might notice as long as Washington got the Iran nuclear deal.

The Ivy League geniuses who have run our foreign policy for decades have never distinguished themselves in the long game. Driven by domestic politics, they make "miscalculations" that are often near-catastrophic. They inevitably lack pragmatism and often put America last. When driven by the latest woke politics, their policies and decision-making is near-insane. Consider the purposeful destruction of our energy independence under Biden or ruinous COVID policies that were ineffective, unscientific, and projected weakness all at the same time, or the inability to continue a trend toward bringing critical industries back within our borders, or the acceleration of regulations and other government mandates that discourage investment in critical infrastructure and delay its implementation by years, if not longer.

As Fernandez notes, Biden's predicament is not solely due to bad luck. The anonymous "Committee" that runs the country (Biden is the cognitively-challenged spokesperson, but hardly its leader) is falling over itself to amplify bad luck—making nicey-nice with the mad mullahs of Iran, begging the thugs in Venezuela to provide oil for international consumption, and all-of-a-sudden recognizing that the murder on one journalist should not dictate foreign policy in Saudi Arabia. 

Here's the problem—the Committee is a Team of 1s. They have demonstrated over the past 14 months that they are incompetent, and worse, potentially dangerous. Not only are their decisions lacking in fault tolerance and design margin, they don't even understand what those concepts mean.

As they stumble through the history of our time, the Four Horsemen watch and smile.