Gut Instincts

In my last post  I mentioned my reliance on my gut instinct in formulating what is, admittedly, a conspiracy theory.  Interestingly enough, Trump has stated many times he trusts his gut when making decisions too.  Somehow though I suspect there’s a yuge difference between his process and mine, so I’ll explain a bit about how I make my gut decisions identifying the Clinton/Dem/mainstream media spin operations in the media and how I analyze any news pertaining to the actions or public comments and appearances of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Studying propaganda and military information warfare operations has been an interest of mine starting in 1980, when I became interested in studying the Cold War, while in the Army.  Another hobby, of sorts, has been watching people, because people fascinate me.  I also developed a habit of reading a lot of government reports, starting with a hand-me-down copy of The Warren Commission report my oldest sister had sitting around the house.  I read many reports  after big political controversies and calamities, but I also find military after-action reports fascinating.  Add these interests to my news junkie habit that developed when I was probably around 11 or 12, and these habits help guide my “gut instinct”, which fails badly sometimes, but sometimes it’s way ahead of the media reporting.

I also look for patterns of behavior (how people operate/what their personal signature of actions looks like and work on trying to put together a timeline of events or political activities connected to the situation.

Trump, from what I can glean, bases his gut instinct based on his complete faith in his superior dealmaking skills.

Back in the early 90s, I became very interested in the Clinton “war room” and their spin operations. It was something very different than normal political messaging in American presidential politics.  Bill Clinton’s ability to mask his true meaning behind deceptive language fascinated me, to the point, I would often listen closely to what he said in a speech and then look at quotes from the speech that were reported in the news and marvel at how clever he was at saying one thing and meaning exactly the opposite.  Bill and Hillary Clinton both are extremely mendacious people and so is Donald J. Trump but the differences between the Clinton spin operations and comparing that to Trump’s spin sideshow is like comparing fencing to a WWE wrestling match.

Often in combat, guerilla disruption operations prove very successful.  In this endless scorched earth spin information war, Trump disrupts and often hijacks the carefully constructed Dem talking points messaging, that relies on a large network of political operatives, sympathetic news media conduits and Hollywood celebs.  Trump is a one-man show spin guerilla fighter, who routinely, with just a single tweet or public statement, completely disrupts a carefully constructed Dem spin attack.  It’s a large ponderous network vs. an unpredictable, lone spin guerilla, who attacks at random and without any warning.

Along with following the news, I’ve read many of the books that came out on the Clintons (friendly and unfriendly viewpoints), I read books by Democrat political operatives too, like Carville, Dick Morris, John Podesta, etc.  I recently saw David Axelrod’s book, Believer, which I found in my local Dollar Tree store for a $1, so I bought it. I intend to read Ken Starr’s book, Contempt, too, but I have a long list of books I want to get through before I buy that.  I even have a couple books on Trump too.  Another habit of mine is to read bios online of people and political events, to try to understand where they came from.  This brings me back to trusting “gut instinct” –  some people’s quick decisions might be more reliable than others, based on how they go about analyzing situations.

The caveat to trusting “gut instinct” is no human system based on making fast judgments is ever going to be 100% accurate  and it’s best to keep paying attention to new information that develops and be open to admitting some of your “gut instinct” assessments were incorrect and try to improve.

In 2005, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book, Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking, where he describes this process:

“Thin-slicing” refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink (p. 37). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Two situations described in this book interested me.  Retired Marine Corps general, Paul Van Riper is without a doubt one of the most brilliant military strategists in America. Gladwell explains Van Riper was selected to lead the Red Team, playing a rogue military leader in the Persian Gulf, heading a terrorist group in Millenium Challenge ‘o2, a very expensive U.S. military wargaming exercise.  In the exercise Blue Team was meant to test the U.S. military’s new operational system, relying on high-tech systems that provided all the super-duper complex computer assessments and analysis, which would provide vast amounts of information quickly.  The Red Team rogue leader, Van Riper played, didn’t have all those high-tech systems:

“Millennium Challenge, in other words, was not just a battle between two armies. It was a battle between two perfectly opposed military philosophies. Blue Team had their databases and matrixes and methodologies for systematically understanding the intentions and capabilities of the enemy. Red Team was commanded by a man who looked at a long-haired, unkempt, seat-of-the pants commodities trader yelling and pushing and making a thousand instant decisions an hour and saw in him a soul mate.

On the opening day of the war game, Blue Team poured tens of thousands of troops into the Persian Gulf. They parked an aircraft carrier battle group just offshore of Red Team’s home country. There, with the full weight of its military power in evidence, Blue Team issued an eight-point ultimatum to Van Riper, the eighth point being the demand to surrender. They acted with utter confidence, because their Operational Net Assessment matrixes told them where Red Team’s vulnerabilities were, what Red Team’s next move was likely to be, and what Red Team’s range of options was. But Paul Van Riper did not behave as the computers predicted.

Blue Team knocked out his microwave towers and cut his fiber-optics lines on the assumption that Red Team would now have to use satellite communications and cell phones and they could monitor his communications.

“They said that Red Team would be surprised by that,” Van Riper remembers. “Surprised? Any moderately informed person would know enough not to count on those technologies. That’s a Blue Team mind-set. Who would use cell phones and satellites after what happened to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan? We communicated with couriers on motorcycles, and messages hidden inside prayers. They said, ‘How did you get your airplanes off the airfield without the normal chatter between pilots and the tower?’ I said, ‘Does anyone remember World War Two? We’ll use lighting systems.’”

Suddenly the enemy that Blue Team thought could be read like an open book was a bit more mysterious. What was Red Team doing? Van Riper was supposed to be cowed and overwhelmed in the face of a larger foe. But he was too much of a gunslinger for that. On the second day of the war, he put a fleet of small boats in the Persian Gulf to track the ships of the invading Blue Team navy. Then, without warning, he bombarded them in an hour-long assault with a fusillade of cruise missiles. When Red Team’s surprise attack was over, sixteen American ships lay at the bottom of the Persian Gulf. Had Millennium Challenge been a real war instead of just an exercise, twenty thousand American servicemen and women would have been killed before their own army had even fired a shot. “

As the Red force commander, I’m sitting there and I realize that Blue Team had said that they were going to adopt a strategy of preemption,” Van Riper says. “So I struck first. We’d done all the calculations on how many cruise missiles their ships could handle, so we simply launched more than that, from many different directions, from offshore and onshore, from air, from sea. We probably got half of their ships. We picked the ones we wanted. The aircraft carrier. The biggest cruisers. There were six amphibious ships. We knocked out five of them.””

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink (pp. 185-189). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

While it’s a gross insult to General Van Riper’s strategic brilliance to compare him to Donald J. Trump in any way, I think  a very  general “complicated system vs. a very simple, unpredictable system” analogy  holds up.  General Van Riper was playing a rogue military leader of terrorists with few military assets pitted against the most high-tech military in the world.  Scorched earth spin information warfare, on the other hand is sleazy mass media propaganda games and smear campaigns, so it was the Clinton/Dem/mainstream media manipulative word games/smear campaigns vs. Trump, the crass, loudmouth reality TV star blazing insults across the airwaves and mean tweets on his personal Twitter account.  I just don’t think it takes ‘brilliant” strategists to ruthlessly manipulate people, spread outrageous lies and wage vicious smear campaigns.  It takes total amorality of thousands of slithering snakes in the grass vs. a giant hissing orange-skinned snake.

Gladwell gives numerous examples of how sometimes thin-slices of information can give you enough information to make those, almost “thinking without thinking” determinations based on a pattern, you detect very quickly.  I read a book a long while ago, dealing with some of this “in a glance” concept, which Von Clausewitz, a brilliant military strategist, referred to this ability as Napoleon’s Glance, and used the term coup d’oeil.  William Duggan in his book, Napoleon’s Glance writes:

“Coup d’oeil was the secret of Napoleon’s success.  He made no innovations himself: Instead, he studied in detail the winning campaigns of the great generals who came before him, all the way back to Alexander the Great more than two thousand years before.  Napoleon imitated their tactics but always in a new combination that fit the present situation.  He put his army in motion with no particular destination, until he saw in a glance a coup d’oeil a chance to win a battle.  The place and time were completely unpredictable, and he passed up more battles than he fought.”

Napoleon’s Glance, written by William Duggan, page 4

Gladwell also touched on coup d’oeil in his book, Blink, and described a WWII situation pertaining to British women recruited to listen to German radio broadcasts:

“In the Second World War, the British assembled thousands of so-called interceptors— mostly women— whose job it was to tune in every day and night to the radio broadcasts of the various divisions of the German military. The Germans were, of course, broadcasting in code, so— at least in the early part of the war— the British couldn’t understand what was being said. But that didn’t necessarily matter, because before long, just by listening to the cadence of the transmission, the interceptors began to pick up on the individual fists of the German operators, and by doing so, they knew something nearly as important, which was who was doing the sending. “If you listened to the same call signs over a certain period, you would begin to recognize that there were, say, three or four different operators in that unit, working on a shift system, each with his own characteristics,” says Nigel West, a British military historian. “And invariably, quite apart from the text, there would be the preambles, and the illicit exchanges. How are you today? How’s the girlfriend? What’s the weather like in Munich? So you fill out a little card, on which you write down all that kind of information, and pretty soon you have a kind of relationship with that person.”

The interceptors came up with descriptions of the fists and styles of the operators they were following. They assigned them names and assembled elaborate profiles of their personalities. After they identified the person who was sending the message, the interceptors would then locate their signal. So now they knew something more. They knew who was where. West goes on: “The interceptors had such a good handle on the transmitting characteristics of the German radio operators that they could literally follow them around Europe— wherever they were. That was extraordinarily valuable in constructing an order of battle, which is a diagram of what the individual military units in the field are doing and what their location is. If a particular radio operator was with a particular unit and transmitting from Florence, and then three weeks later you recognized that same operator, only this time he was in Linz, then you could assume that that particular unit had moved from northern Italy to the eastern front. Or you would know that a particular operator was with a tank repair unit and he always came up on the air every day at twelve o’clock. But now, after a big battle, he’s coming up at twelve, four in the afternoon, and seven in the evening, so you can assume that unit has a lot of work going on. And in a moment of crisis, when someone very high up asks, ‘Can you really be absolutely certain that this particular Luftwaffe Fliegerkorps [German air force squadron] is outside of Tobruk and not in Italy?’ you can answer, ‘Yes, that was Oscar, we are absolutely sure.’””

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink (pp. 45-47). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

I don’t know if my “gut instinct” when it comes to identifying the Clinton/Dem spin attacks and smear campaigns launching in the media and their endless corrupt political power plays has more to do with Gladwell’s  “thinking without thinking” concept,  coup d’oeil or is more akin to Gavin DeBecker’s, The Gift of Fear, after surviving  the Clinton’s ruthlessness during impeachment in 1998…

4 Comments

Filed under General Interest, Information War, Military, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Gut Instincts

  1. JK

    “I think a very general “complicated system vs. a very simple, unpredictable system” analogy holds up.”

    Me too.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/apr/29/mcchrystal-afghanistan-powerpoint-slide

    And that we’re still in Afghanistan with no improved prospects would seem to buttress your contention.

    • Is this the McChrystal surge strategy?

      That brings back memories – I rather strongly criticized that strategy (among other military policy pieces Peters wrote) on Ralph Peters op-ed columns at the New York Post… then all the comments sections on Peters columns there were removed. My email and facebook accounts appeared to be hacked at the same time, as I was communicating with my attorney, whom I had given my passwords to both my facebook and email accounts and I was writing comments in draft messages to my attorney – explaining to my attorney what all happened in ’98 and my ongoing attempts to expose what happened to me…

      It’s been a Sisyphean challenge to get anyone to even listen to me about any of this – I get automatically dismissed as a nobody homemaker. Only peeps with fancy titles, connected friends (or a blue checkmark on Twitter) are considered worth listening to in America..

  2. JK

    Unintended.

    I did have in mind a Powerpoint slide meaning for it to illustrate General Van Riper’s using simple stuff like using wands [lights, like you see carrier plane directors doing at night] to direct plane movements rather than radio thus undercutting the tactical side of Blue Team’s “strategy” – in an effort to support the “complicated v. simple/unpredictable” analogy you’d drawn.

    However the particular slide my memory provided search terms for applied to Iraq (which, we’ve managed [supposedly] to get out of) rather than Afghanistan (where, looks like, we ain’t for the foreseeable future) which I meant to consolidate and fortify the utility of “going with your gut.”

    Looks quite apparent to me now that my having gone with mine perfectly illustrates the downside of having done so.

    Sorry about that LB.

  3. Well, JK, This slide you posted made me seasick even glancing at me and gets the point across completely. It reminded me of another convoluted mess of a plan, when the charts and diagrams of Hillary’s healthcare plan in the 90s rolled out, lol.

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