Monday, March 20, 2017

The Parity Problem

Sometimes a dose of Churchill can cleanse the cognitive cobwebs, if for nothing else, than to enjoy the profundity of precise pontificating. Churchill could read aloud a phonebook and it would sound powerful. That is in part why his portrayal of the War to End all Wars, The Great War, is on many levels…powerful. Read for instance his several sentence summary of the entire war on page 558, around the middle of the page. Consider the problem of parity that essentially entangled both sides of the war, as they struggled against each other — more importantly as they struggled against themselves. In many respects, the parity problem was a function of concepts, not capabilities. They struggled with their own selves trying to figure out how many of the new means of warfare could be used to effect and for advantage. Both sides had plenty of capability; what they lacked was a concept to put those capabilities to use. In the process, both sides literally went to ground as they could gain little more than feet and yards at a time against each other. Should we consider a similar problem today as the ubiquity of information, communication, and connected data technology are transforming the means of waging warfare? Are there virtual trenches from which we may one day find ourselves fighting as we struggle with one another, trying to break through the latest breakthroughs? Consider instead how “Craft, foresight, deep comprehension of the verities, not only local but general; strategems, devices, manoevres…” might instead form the basis for how we find potential in the parity problem.[1]

[1] See Winton Churchill in the The WorldCrisis (abridged), Scribner, 1992, p. 573.