Opportunity costs and decision-making

"On Violence" has linked to my text about the lifesaving argument, and this (together with a recent bout in the comments) gave me the final push to write a bit more in general about the importance of opportunity costs in correct decisionmaking.

Imagine you're a collector of nicely decorated coffee cups. You have an annual budget of 1,000 bucks for this hobby. You meet sellers on fairs and a total of 10,000 cups are on offer, with prices ranging from 0.05 bucks to 50 bucks per piece. Curiously, you like all cups on offer the exact same.
Which cups do you buy?
Educated guess: I suppose you buy the cheapest cups till your budget is exhausted. You would be stupid if you spent money on some expensive ones while there are exactly as beautiful cups still on offer at a lower price.

This is a very widely usable insight, and one usually utterly neglected. I admit it's tough to use in practice because of imperfect information, but one should at the very least not violate this principle of buying the most cost-efficient stuff first after being alerted.

The Military spending and the lifesaving argument blog post applied this rather basic economics thing on the saving of lives: Save as many as possible with a given budget (maximised effect for a given budget), which means save the lives first which cost the least to save.

Another application relevant to this blog is about benevolent interventionism: In theory, an intervention in a civil war or (believed) genocide may save foreigner's lives. Is this a good idea?
It depends (and not only whether one's expectation of success is good enough).
Let's say a government expects no own troops to be killed and the fiscal expenses per foreign life saved are guesstimated at 1,000 bucks per soul.
The aforementioned principle means that you better not intervene unless you exhausted all methods of saving lives at a lower price tag than 1,000 bucks per soul. Immunisation programs, information campaigns, free condoms, subsidised drugs, subsidised water filtration sets, work safety campaigns etc.
This makes military fanboi interventionists weep, of course. That's because their real interest isn't on the lifesaving part, but on the blow up, maim, kill and boast part of the intervention.

Yet another application; egoistic interventions with economic interests. Does it make sense to spend ten billion bucks more per year on expeditionary military forces? There is the possibility that their existence and/or employment makes purchased resources cheaper (outright robbing is out of fashion), after all.
Let's ignore the difference between a benefit to an oil company shareholder and a benefit to the guy buying gasoline at a gas station for now. Shall the expeditionary forces be beefed up and sustained?

Well, it first needs to outperform all other capital investment options that are left to justify itself.
One such option would be to reduce the government debt instead, and we know the interest rates for this: A few per cent. The current interest rates are extraordinarily low, but typical nominal interest rate for German federal bonds during the 90's were around 7 % p.a., ~ 5 % p.a. real interest rate (without the inflation).
The ten billion bucks would need to yield an economic benefit of 500 million bucks a year to beat this alternative. Next year again. and again. And again. Till eternity (there's financial math to make this more handy). And next year's 10 billion bucks would need to do the same. And the 10 billion the year thereafter as well. Et cetera.
Are federal bonds a strong or a weak alternative? It depends on how well-governed the country is. Federal bonds would be a weak alternative if the country is well-run, and a very strong one if it's poorly run. The existence of a narrowly observed deficit limit would de-couple this and one would need to look at available alternatives directly.
Which is what a government should do anyway. It is actually quite easy to find options for spending public funds for higher benefit returns than 4%. After all, taxes often incur secondary effects (administration costs, distortions) well beyond 10% and are still being levied. Research has yielded up to about 30% such extra costs for especially poorly mutated tax laws, but 10-15% is a fine rule of thumb. So after spending ten billions p.a. for a decade, you better get 10 billions economic benefit out of it p.a..
That is, if you have an all-robotic military. Otherwise there would be troops which could increase economic output directly if they worked as civilians, this effect would be an additional approx. 10 billion p.a.. This is known as opportunity costs as well.
Even more: Four to six billion bucks of that economic activity would become government revenues. And these would create even more benefits. Et cetera. 
Interventionists really don't stand a chance once you crunch the numbers unless you buy into wild guesses about alleged and never proven benefits.

I doubt that the people who agitate for military interventions in economic self-interest have crunched the numbers or taken into account the actual poor success of such interventions during the 20th century.

We can use the "artistic" approach of resource allocation and just guess what's a good use for money based on our feelings. Some people are convinced that a certain budget would be fine without even thinking about opportunity costs or total budgets.
The result of such guessing would almost inevitably be utter wastefulness. It would be as handing the government's finances over to a six year old boy. Pet projects everywhere, but also people dying for want of a 10 cent screw or a 20 cent pill.

The competent way of allocating resources requires that you make an effort to expect the cost/benefit ratios somewhat accurately. You should then proceed to pay for the most cost-efficient options first. True "must-have" things can have an infinite value assigned in this method. The budget caps the allocation of resources at some point, and everything not afforded up to that point is simply wrong.



  1. With that level of 'rational mathematical analytics' one would wonder how to squeeze the buttons on the pocket-calculator for a few to quantify the best way to support the Arab Spring - or not.

    Of course, most stopped reading after the following romantic conclusion:
    "This makes military fanboi interventionists weep, of course. That's because their real interest isn't on the lifesaving part, but on the blow up, maim, kill and boast part of the intervention."

    There are times when a touch of levity is what is indeed called for... Cartoonism can be so much fun.

    1. "support he Arab spring" = 2013's code word for "join just another stupid civil war".

  2. Watching the discussion round here lately I find one side saying "Interventions are expensive and most of the recent attempts failed to achieve anything good." And another side claiming that there have been successful interventions.
    Nice. So far it is perfectly possible for both parties to be correct. To complicate things one party starts to derive from the fact that there have been interventions that may be considered successful, that this holds true for most undertakings of this kind. The request to elaborate this conclusion to allow others to follow it is usually denied and then what started as discussion usually degrades into various forms of name calling or interesting anecdotes.
    As interested reader of this blog and especially the comments I would kindly ask to have the beneficial nature of an interventionisic policy established, preferably with historic examples.

    1. We could of course open up the Iraq-2 discussion and chew on the 5,6,7+ good reasons for this successful intervention.

      And then examine the subsequent consequences in the multiple cases of 'Arab-Spring'-labeled self-liberations in the Arab crescent, once they saw one 'eternal' leader taken out, and then a second one in Libya, with others adapting with alacrity (e.g. Morocco), and those who don't, dragged out of office (Egypt), or leaving (Tunisia) etc. ...

      Or the interesting role of Italy's growing amphibious VSTOL capabilities in the case of Libya.

      While Sven (predictably ??) evaded any engagement, I proposed the case of 1933-45 Germany as an unarguably successfully responded-to provocation for the most massive 'intervention' ever - with the interesting result of 'the loser' Germany now being Europe's most powerful economy. Now there is a delicious feast of near endless episodes demonstrating the virtues of 'intervention'-policies and hard-edge military engagement.

      Then we'd just be 'warmed up' for the '41-'45 Pacific Theater 'Intervention' in response to the Japanese 'Intervention' across East-Asia beginning in the '30s, ending in the use of two nuclear weapons effecting the unambiguous certain end of hostilities...with Japan (another case ??) soon to rise to #2 global economic power, now #3. And Japan has a very potent 'Coast Guard' (bigger than many other navies) in addition to its significant and growing (now adding aircraft carriers) 'Maritime Self-Defense Force"/ a.k.a. Japanese Navy.

      We could speculate about tomorrow how we'd keep Syria from doing even more damage to the region - apart from shredding itself...

      Etc. etc.

      Of course, as observed before, 'interventions' will be pursued on all sorts of levels and in all sorts of domains. And with each episode, we are getting a bit smarter on how to prepare for 'the next one'...

    2. For starters, the Iraq invasion 2003 was no "intervention". It was a plain war of aggression, it was stupid and anyone who calls it "successful" clearly isn't under influence of the concept of cost/benefit. There's no reasonable doubt that the U.S. would be better off now it it hadn't invaded.

      I didn't evade anything on the nazi case. fact is, NO power effectively "intervened" against Nazis. UK and France entered the war on a guarantee of sovereignty, which was a one-way alliance. The US and USSR were declared war on.

      And you better not mention Japan because it's a case study in how to fail spectacularly if you want to pursue economic interests with the military. It doesn't get more disastrous.

    3. Well, Sven, whatever you choose to be "under the influence" of, if Iraq-2 was not an 'Intervention', then perhaps Christian's request needs heeding even more urgently so.

      Furthermore, just because your metrics may not allow you to fully 'calculate' the IRAQ-2 venture, that does not mean that those 5,6.7+ objectives were successfully accomplished.

      Arguing that reality will be grist for mills of historical revisionism of whatever couleur your 'philosophical flag' may dictate - but won't alter the facts on the ground.

      And Iraq is what it is, as is the 'Arab Spring', as is Iran's position, that of Israel's, now even more so Syria's, the House of Saud's, etc. etc.
      - whether anybody asked me or you, Sven.

      Onwards, in support of aggressively-defended principles of Democracy, Human Rights, (heck) Capitalism, and plausible definitions of the Rule of Law, etc. etc.

  3. ...until that failed state breeds forces that find a way of reaching out to hit you suddenly, as certain folks did a while back in NYC.

    So how would we build this calculus-model to cool, calm and collected assess something like the Arab Spring down to significant fraction figures for a 'Universal Assessment Code' ?

    Have you offered your insights to NATO, the UN, the Bill Gates Foundation, PLA, somebody ?

    I'd reckon, they'd be keen to just run your numbers to 'be on the safe side'.

    1. Yet another myth.
      The guys who flew into the twin towers were mostly 'bred' in Saudi Arabia and received the most critical training in Florida.

      You lag behind a lot if you think you can get away here with the myth of danger emanating from failed states.

      Besides, you did totally not get the most critical point:
      You NEVER EVER need to justify to NOT spend, destroy, maim and kill.
      You need to justify these actions.
      The burden of proof is on the pro-intervention folks.
      I can lean back, maybe upload my brain into a droid in 50 years and wait for centuries till you pro-intervention folks come up with a justification.
      Problem is, you folks never do it, and there are still stupid interventions and the shit hits the fan again and again.
      You folks aren't even trying to provide proof that intervention is promising. Instead, you just throw allegations around as often as possible, relying on the human mind's susceptibility to suggestion by repetition.
      And of course, you folks hijack the narrative whenever possible.

      That's why the people in their right mind need to push back against warmongers every time.

    2. "...getting away with" stuff, eh ?!
      Always on the watch - but easily distracted via 'virtual attrition' movements out of sight.

      About the 'right' thing, that would be like having the thumb on the left side of the right hand or the other side - or what ?!

      And about the Droid reference, bots with earlier-generation coding tend to exhibit certain glitches - some predictable and others, well, not. 50 years or five minutes - who'd care ?
      Bots clearly do not.

      So, how would you exercise Defence/Defense and Freedom ? Apparently by being passive until somebody makes off with your fan...

      Fortunately others pick up that self-indulgent latter-day-refusnik slack and engage when and where necessary. And don't even ask for input...

    3. "necessary"
      You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

      Hint: Yet again, you just assert something, and again zero support for the assertion.

      I know YOU won't think about it. You're locked in your opinion. I just care about others; guys, think about all such assertions. Don't just buy into them without good or even without any supporting evidence.

  4. Very interesting post. How do you calculate improved/secured access to resources of strategic importance?

    Oil (Iraq, Libya, Syria in transit), lithium, rare earth (both in Afghanistan) and coltan(Congo War) would be among those. Secured access does have further repercussions on overall positions in other matters of trade and commerce. I do not know how to judge these net effects.

    China for example is dependant on oil from the Near East and has yet no chance to secure the transit with its own military. They are about to change that to some degree via pipelines and roads through Central and South Asia to China.
    And they do have veiled armed threats in the South China Sea with its large reservoir of methane clathrate (a possible future energy source, also pursued by Japan, making tiny islands important bases for claims).
    Energy supply is the prime concern of this country that is highly dependant on energy resources for their production, while their access to affordable nutrition gets less highlighted.
    Europe and the Americas, including the USA, have control of exportable surplus food that are required by other nations under current circumstances (no comment on the ability to change that situation). Food is the most basic strategic resources as it serves as the prime enabler of working at full performance and of growing capable human beings (nutrition of mothers and children is most important for the offspring to develop full physical and mental capabilities).

    World War II highlights a form of conquest of growing importance in modern times, know-how. The know-how developed by the vanquished during that war was shared unequal among the victors (the Western allies seemingly got the lion share). Espionage and raids into secured information systems are among the current modern means to secure these and the US and her allies are among the ones with the big treasure trove.
    To some degree did the current wars/interventions give know-how access on different levels. This ranges from learning to communicate in Afghan languages to inspecting facilities and products in Iraq and Libya.

    1. S.O.'s quest for blissful simplicity based on an apparently most personal metric seems a laudable effort.

      But what are the odds for a mass-movement ??

      Likely slim since he deems just about everybody else mentally below-par, hampered to boot by very limited memory.

      This must make for a most vexing conundrum of having the urge to counsel - but having just about no one fit to understand the good ideas...

      That's why I'm off instead, scheming another 'intervention' somewhere...barrel-artillery or tubes...helos or fixed-wing...Decisions, decisions. Whatever !! Gotta have my 'fix'...NOW !

      Why, my good man, would you happen to have a match for this here fuze ? Tharr she goes...

    2. Sven very well reflects common German attitudes on intervention.

    3. in wars for resources one should consider if building a suitable army, going to war, decimating your own and the other country's workforce, destroying a whole lot of infrastructure and then having to clean up the mess really is cheaper than
      a. just buying the stuff.
      b. R&D to gain independance from the resource in question.
      Of course this only works in societies where the costs of war are born by the same people that would reap the profits.

  5. TwentyTwenty wrote: "S.O.'s quest for blissful simplicity based on an apparently most personal metric seems a laudable effort.

    But what are the odds for a mass-movement ??"

    S.O. does provide some basic rules to make an initial assesment of costs vs. perceived/assumed benefits.

    If you really think that this is simple in the sense of low intellectual input your are wrong, the creation of good rules may be hard work. However, the advantage is, that these rules could be created in peacetime without any time pressure. The actual application of the rules may be indeed fast.

    Your "interventionist" line of arguments are more suitable for a mass movement because you work without any scientific rigor, but with gut feelings. It is no surprise for me that this line is usually taken by politicians and very popular (at least at the beginning) with most people.


  6. Sure, Anonymous. ("Gotta love that name...")

    But there is a lot of 'Learning Curve' ahead for instance on the disconnect between assuming ("by right" ??) global trade-reach without any 'costs' accruing. One way or the other, Sven's (and cohort's) personal metrics casually claim the (embarrassingly self-entitled) right to evade unavoidables. And that only works for a limited period of time.

    Hence the adjustments to the Constitution for the Afghanistan-mission and planning or greater 'interventionistic capabilities' farther afield via credible force-projection efforts, however fractured they may as yet be.

    Germany is extraordinarily exposed to 'ill winds' that would give its trade-dependent economy not just a dripping nose but possibly more destructive conditions - thus is dependent on 'other folks' willingness to keep matters stable, from 'Reserve Currency-Status' over episodes such as Iraq-2, and repeated reassurances of the 'Nuclear Umbrella' to global naval capabilities in which increasingly even small (responsible) nations actively engage.

    Any Sven's German de facto foreign-political/military 'Isolationism' is simply self-indulgently incoherent in a stubbornly doctrinaire way that will neither make up for 'the past' nor seems promising to its own current and future export-dependent domestic political stability.

    So far at least, fortunately, Sven et al have been able to piggy-back on other democracy's willingness and pocket-book to do what needs doing.

    Of course, there've always been instances of 'free-loading' in any efforts of system-stabilization - at times also quoting pious but idiosyncratic metrics to justify this display of obviously poor 'neighborly' manners.

    Judging by her robust economic interventions within Europe alone however, Ms. Merkel clearly knows better. And with this growing 'interventionistic' track-record, she lays the philosophical groundwork for pragmatically expanding global physical reach as well. What needs doing, needs doing.

    1. "right to evade unavoidables"
      No, I don't.
      BUT what you claim as "unavoidable" is not proved to be unavoidable.
      That's just another assertion of yours which I am sure you will never ever substantiate because you never ever seem to look at your assumptions. Your decision-making skill is pre-school in my opinion.

      "thus is dependent on 'other folks' willingness to keep matters stable"
      Guess what? EVERY country is. The US couldn't secure its maritime trade around the world either; The USN would be hard-pressed to secure the Kuwait-to-Gibraltar route alone and wouldn't be able to pull even this off if the Europeans wanted to block this route.

      "nor seems promising to its own current and future export-dependent domestic political stability"
      Looking at history, the way to go in regard to securing maritime trade was always to keep peace and not antagonise too many others, while waging war or heating up rivalries endangered trade.
      Look at Japan; secure crude oil supply throughout the 20's, but prior to WW2 they were largely shut from crude oil imports because of their aggressions.

      Finally, Merkel may do u-turns at times, but she clearly learned from the ISAF experience and even more so from the prelude to the 20003 Iraq invasion. Your assumption that she's (still) an interventionist is yet again just that - an unsubstantiated assumption.
      And she's not doing any philosophical work ever; Macchiavelli already covered her only field of expertise.

    2. Twenty wrote: Sure, Anonymous. ("Gotta love that name...")

      That tell us a lot about your reading skills and your attention span. :-)

      Last line: "Ulenspiegel"

      "Any Sven's German de facto foreign-political/military 'Isolationism' is simply self-indulgently incoherent in a stubbornly doctrinaire way that will neither make up for 'the past' nor seems promising to its own current and future export-dependent domestic political stability.

      So far at least, fortunately, Sven et al have been able to piggy-back on other democracy's willingness and pocket-book to do what needs doing."

      Sorry, that is nonsense. Because you do not understand that after 1990 things changed in Europe and for NATO, you label other incoherent.... That's lazy and stupid but perfectly explains the current US politics. :-)


  7. "...never ever,...never ever...your decision-making skill is pre-school...", well, one hopes that this was therapeutic.

    You'll have to do this now at least once a day, because reality and 'Real Politik' seem flat-out against your 'moral exceptionalism'. And reality always gets you sooner or later.

    1. I am totally not surprised you're unable (or unwilling) to read properly.

      The quote was "That's just another assertion of yours which I am sure you will never ever substantiate because you never ever seem to look at your assumptions."

      Now open a dictionary and learn about the meaning of the word "seem".
      Hint: in this context it means that what I wrote was perfectly realistic and no exaggeration.

      And I don't claim moral exceptionalism. My claim is rather that you ilk (warmongers) are the worst kind of people.
      A single warmonger in a position of power can easily be worse to the economy and population of his country than all its bank robbers and murderers of a century. No category of criminals is as dangerous as are warmongers.

    2. Again a strong urge to be the Schulmeister...

      While pedantics are on some agenda, others are at work to cover for those going AWOL.

      "...worst kind of people...no criminals are as dangerous as are warmongers" - oh dear, such tender feelings thrust forth by self-righteous indignation - based on what facts ??

      In a democracy, where are those 'warmongers' successful ?
      With your alarmism, are a lot of them walking the streets in your neighborhood ?

      How can you tell ?

      What do they look like ?

      What are their presumed powers derived from ?

    3. Example Nocons:
      Killed roughly 4,000 Americans in Iraq, caused costs of one to three trillion USD. The whole enterprise is not widely deemed (even in he US) to have been a waste.
      And that was a small conflict. Look at Europe or Japan and you can see how warmongers can easily kill millions.

      And their "presumed power" is the manipulation of opinion based on psychological weak spots of mankind. That's about cognitive psychology.

    4. Well, I guess everyone is 'stupid' (again). Including the volunteers who signed up to serve in those theaters.

      Your view of
      - society,
      - fellow citizen,
      - democratic systems of decision-making
      needs growing towards first full awareness of what is, and then respect for how it works.

      This current state of dark views of reality, combined with the banal finger-wagging 'thing' has little chance to go far.

      Instead of reading which Ukrainian toaster-oven works in the Ukraine in winter, better time might be spent hitting Democratic Theory, Civil Rights History, hey, how about 'Wehrhafte Demokratie' etc, etc.

      You might find yourself less dismissive and cynical of 'others', once you begin to realize the whys and the hows of what seems to really disorient you.

      And you'll find yourself embarrassed about pushing casual 'metrics' to assess complex realities and you'll wince about your claims of personal powers of persuasion.

      It takes some work though...

    5. Ah, the old warmonger trick. Ran out of arguments (and got them blown up), so next step s to conflate the warmonger position with actually legitimate positions.
      No, dude, not there. I call you out when you conflate interventionism with other topics, trying to siphon legitimacy from the latter for the former.

      And I'm good-enough educated on civil rights, democracy et cetera. None of it repudiates the findings of cognitive psychology about the fallibilities of the human mind.

      Besides, my "finger wagging" is about to not spend, destroy, maim, kill" while yours is in favour of it. I don't feel my "finger wagging" is first to be criticized under such circumstances. You're projecting here.

    6. "...None of it repudiates the findings of cognitive psychology about the fallibilities of the human mind."

      Heck, better late than never, my friend.

      Then again, between that House of Mirrors that Eulenspiegel is offering up, and your personal perspective on Realpolitik, you might find yourselves so disoriented at the faces in those mirrors, that you'd be indeed officially and certifiably disorientated. Oh dear !
      Now, having faded out on this Thread, you are off to another equally 'promising' venture
      "The Ultimate War-Monger Thread"...or some such.

      In lieu of robustly tending to international responsibilities, 'poignant' labels and 'succinct' insights are harnessed to build another 'Feindbild' against any such participation.

      In light of the proceedings this far though, I guess with the shorter days ahead, you may early on run out of folks to 'understand' your perspective since none are 'worthy' of it in light of your conclusive in-depth psych-studies.

      I guess this labored (pseudo) Isolationism thing is as 'attractive' to your fellow citizens as it is here online.

      As a footnote, our IT folks here express a certain amount of admiration on those numbers of international visitors. It looks quite...quite...

  8. Now there is two of you.
    The Magic of the Eulenspiegel...

    But - will twice the apparitions therefore result in more coherence ?

    Or will (blunt) evasions continue to rule the discussion ?

    S.O. provides 'rules' that suit his selective view of reality. Reminds me of the laborious discussions of exactly how many angels we could put in the tip of a needle; and those 'researchers' have been crafting these types 'arguments' for coming up on two millennia. Is Sven one of them - just in camo ?

    It's like the old somewhat abrasive saying:
    " Those who can - do ! And those who can't -teach." With such a diminutive military as Sven seems to prefer, how would one even spell 'intervention' before running out of resources...

    So, 'teaching' about 'the evil' of what one can't do anyway closes that circle of 'reasoning', which presumably results in good feelings for some.

    Others plan for a more reality-driven approach,
    all-the-while you two will send earnest memos around the world on the rules you've self-selected to formulate for all and with splendid reason...or at least some reasons.

    I can see it now, the Chamberlain-reenactment performance beginning with Sven coming down the gangway stating " I have in my hands here a paper..."

    Yeah, that went well.

    When will Sven offer to orate before the UN ? If Sudan could be in charge of the Human Right Commission a few years back, they seem flexible on who gets heard on what. I'd give it a shot reasoning with the world at large on how to do "sings de proppa vey !"

    1. Look, I have arguments and they're not about mythical beings. You have no arguments. All you have are assumptions and assertions.
      Too bad you appear to be utterly unable (or unmotivated) to look at those assumptions which are critical to your assertions.

      Instead, you promote acts which lead to spending, destruction of property, wounding and killing.
      Without the slightest bit of justification, just because you feel it's a good idea.

    2. Well, you've got me there !
      I've been unmasked !!
      Now what !!!

      ...geez, I'm out of exclamation-marks.

    3. There still ist the undisputed claim that going to war doesn't pay off. And speaking bluntly: If it did we would have been spared the debt ceiling theatre we had to endure the last weeks. What is claimed necessary to stabilize global markets cost the US an arm and a leg and leaves public interests so underfunded that the crumbling infrastructure is hurting the domestic economy.
      The observed outcome lets the interventionalistic approach look really bad.

    4. Once it is necessary for the US to carry more defense-budget burdens than the next 20 countries combined (or something like that) you may want to investigate the sustainability of the 'free-rider' model many of these economies happily indulge in.

      While more finger-wagging is forth-coming from Sven, that absence of participation makes your seats at the table that much smaller and insignificant.

      And that means less say, less input, and even less of a semblance of 'sovereignty' if you are not paying your own way in treasure - and in blood if need be.

      The observed outcome of 'interventionistic' policies has so far been the ever-broadening democratization of heretofore 'forgotten' nations - e.g. Iraqi Morning and Arab Spring -, so many polities, that were only seen by the stone-cold corporatists as 'markets' to sell stuff in, but not as people with rights to self-determination, self-growth and thus a much more stable and productive future.

      And yes, domestic US-silly notwithstanding, all that progress costs in resources - but also much less in blood than ever before.

      Starting with the bloodless collapse of The Wall courtesy of two very 'interventionistic' Super-Powers dealing, much more freedom has become attainable by many more in much less time in just the last 20+ years, than Sven Ortmann's gospel of metrics-based isolationism-driven stagnation ever could.

      That is why those newly liberated folks will not consult this 'wisdom' here, but will bring in political scientists, constitutional experts, law-enforcement specialists, liberal arts visitors, etc. all in order to very quickly acquire the basic tools of civic life, from running City-Council meetings to progressively less corrupt national forms of governance.

      As the German and the Japanese case so perfectly document, certain training-assistance may be necessary for years and decades.

      And as someone quite wise quipped a long while back, the US forces are amongst the very few in history in which upon due reflection, the occupied repeat eventually decade after decade for the 'occupiers' to please not leave anytime soon, as whole counties depend on US bases to keep the economic lights glowing...never mind the US' willingness to offer tactical and strategic protection.

      Good to see so many generous folks willing to pay for all this.

      I guess you good folks are therefore all brimming with gratitude about the quiet arrival of Anti-Ballistic-Missile Defense capability courtesy of the DDG-51 based well-distributed and ever moving floating 'Star Wars - Light' capability.

      All courtesy (again) of US taxpayers picking up 'the slack'... One significant reason which there are no 'Super-Trains' running here, or 7-week vacations are not really heard of.

    5. "Once it is necessary for the US to carry more defense-budget burdens than the next 20 countries combined (...)"

      You don't recognise how ridiculous this assumption/assertion of yours sounds, do you?
      Quite obviously, it's impossible to be "necessary" to spend so much.

      "much more freedom has become attainable by many more in much less time in just the last 20+ years"

      Not related to interventionism. Afghanistan isn't free, Iraq Shiite oppression was replaced with Iraqi Sunni oppression and Iraqi Kurds gained autonomy by themselves. It's far from proven that the intervention was decisive in Libya, rather than just accelerating the decision.
      Again, you want to support interventionism by stealing other effort's successes.

      I took notice of your increased deviation from the actual interventionism stuff, with lots of blather and distractions replacing the earlier pouting of warmonger propaganda.
      You've clearly run out of ammo.

  9. Without direct threat to a country or it's supplies of natural resources is there ever a reason to attack another country?

    1. And to see and then define 'the threat' is a matter of your lens, your 'aperture', your 'resolution.

      So far in this exchange, what seem on offer are earnest conclusions out of the grainy Super-8mm universe, while just enough understand that we live in an IMAX-universe with de facto infinite pixel-counts requiring massive lens geometries for least distortions of what there is to 'see'.

  10. Sven, i think you can't never, ever gain any knowledge or insight by discussing with people who is convinced that holds the absolute thruth

    This kind of discussions devolves in a emotional fight because your counterpart don't think in your arguments and your gets slowly angered by that

    1. It's a matter of principle to fight back against warmongers.

      Discussions almost never convince a participant to change his mind. Influence is only to be had on undecided people.

      There's research on how facing facts contrary to one's belief will actually make you believe it more. Other research shows that only some people can get convinced they're in error, and only over time with many, many repetitions of contradicting info.
      Almost nobody exposes himself or herself to such a bombardment with unpleasant info, of course - cognitive dissonance avoidance at work.
      That's why it's important to avoid echo chambers where only like-minded people speak up or where the setting is heavily biased in favour of one narrative.

      Sadly, the milblogosphere usually is such an echo chamber on certain topics. The recent 'bomb Syria or not' issue was an unexpected exception to this. The warmongers underestimated the residual resentment towards their policies after Iraq, and got clobbered in most places. Now the more crafty ones went into hiding, waiting till the people's memory about the stupidity of wars of choice faded some more.
      2020 is just a repeating machine in the warmonger club, and he's stuck in shuffle mode because he didn't get the memo to wait till 2014 or maybe even 2015 for the next campaign.

    2. More "can't never ever" plus "absolute truth"...with a dash of "emotional fight"..??

      Sure sounds emotional.

      But it seems that these reflexes are more based on dearly-held perspectives based on relative wherewithal to engage in large-format politics and matching military power-projection.
      And if those a scant and with a tragic tradition attached, then this explains a lot of these arbitrary preferences.

      And if these priorities are a most personal expression of one's sense of 'civilized behavior'
      (versus Realpolitik) - so be it.

      But others then have to pick up that slack, which earns them the right to question that sort of absenteeism from fundamental responsibilities.

    3. "fundamental responsibilities"

      Just another assertion based on assumption. Let me guess: You're not going to substantiate it, right?

      How could you? I can easily make a logical case that even self-defence is no responsibility if it's not promising to improve one's fate at all.
      How could going to distant places, to damage, destroy, maim and kill be a "responsibility" then? Or the spending for this capability.

    4. I gather that you've been around for Iraq-2 and Afghanistan-1. There you can study how it's done - and how variations on that 'theme' have been exercised before and may well be in the future. These two cases are rich lessons to be studied, incl. the good reasons to have done both and the mistakes made.
      So, where is the mystery here ?

      As to your astonishing statement
      "I can easily make a logical case that even self-defence is no responsibility if it's not promising to improve one's fate at all" , that one sentence pretty much rolls up your fallacy into one simple prime example of 'ambitious' reasoning:

      You insist on your discovery of exquisite metrics which can (apparently ?) 'quantify' complex realities that would overwhelm 20 CRAYs, never mind how to input the data...

      No doubt there is bliss in that world of grandeur and (pseudo) simplicity.

      You could not argue your way out of a paper-bag with that naivete - however strong the missionary urges may be. And who would argue on your terms after that statement ?

      I guess I'll sign on to the 'gospel' once I've seen you cross the Atlantic by foot, upright, following the sun...

      As to two guys pounding out equally-deep wisdom 'On Violence', if praising each other makes for a good day - so be it. Now what ?

      Where were you all when Saddam 'disappeared'/killed/tortured-to-death on average 10,000 folks a year over 30+ years ?
      All while a whole lot of countries incl. Germany ('sticky' industrial policies) and the US (plain Cold War and anti-Iran Revolution policies) did happily trade and 'play footsy' with that family-cartel of sadists.

      Or did you feel then that those Iraqi's are 'hardy folks' and can handle that ?

      Oh, women in Afghanistan are 'hardy' too...

      Sounds a lot like the positions around the Vietnam War under the heading that those folks are happy to live in a reeducation Gulag for another generation...because they are 'hardy' too ?

      In case you are looking for the right word one starts with 'R' and the other ...well you know !?

    5. Don't play dumb (or are you)?

      "if it's not promising to improve one's fate at all." as a statement does not require any quantification. There's nothing to calculate int here, as it's about 'in principle'.

      Here's an example: Denmark 1940. Continued military resistance was futile. All the military had to achieve was to enable leaders to flee into exile. There was no 'responsibility' to self-defence, since self defence is a means to an end, and said end was unachievable.
      Now with no 'responsibility' to defend the own country, how could there be that 'responsibiltiy' to be interventionist or to have high military spending as you assert?

      It's just one more of your assumption/assertions which are mere hot air.

      "Where were you all when Saddam 'disappeared'/killed/tortured-to-death on average 10,000 folks a year over 30+ years ?"
      The outrage about his domestic manners are all pretence. More lives could easily be saved with civilian actions and military actions usually kill scores of innocents (including conscripts).
      The "women oppression" thing from Afghanistan was only pushed to the fore once the warmonger's case for sustaining the occupation was suffering from chronic disappointments and since it became publicly known that AQ was down to a few dozen members in Afghanistan.

    6. So, are you saying the R-word applies after all ?

      You are happily displaying self-justified/self-centered Absenteeism:
      - Nobody saw you in the streets of Sadr-City helping out with "civilian actions", nor up in Kirkuk with some war-gases wafting not too far away.

      - And you'd justify standing around discussing 'Bundes-Liga' scores in casual indifference to acid-attacks etc.

      Well, self-definition is what it is. Interestingly, in the Hebraic tradition there is a well-developed strain of thought on the odd phenomenon of 'self-denigration' - if need be in full public.

    7. Note to other readers:
      Look how he claims knowledge which he cannot possibly possess. Assertions without foundations - that's his schtick.

      "Absenteeism" - another attempt to smear, without substance. Actually, I like being "absent" from spending on wasteful efforts, destroying, aiming and killing. He implies a narrative in which being absent, i.e. not support - is bad because the action (intervention) is good. problem is, he cannot and obviously doesn't want to prove why intervention is a good thing.
      His is all blather, no substance.

      And of course, the "Saddam gassed his own people" incident happened near a front where gas was used in conventional warfare and there were numerous doubts published about whether it was Iraqi gas at all which killed the civilians, much less on order of Saddam Hussein. Warmongers don't care; indifferent to it as they were when it happened, they now love to use it as an argument for their case, of course without paying attention to the doubts.

  11. First, the self-defined narrow-scope approach based on massive unexamined assumptions - Black-&-White 8mm film in a wind-up mechanism versus 'terra'-pixel reality straight into the visual cortex and then farther deeper. And that is not mentioning the ill effects of the fumes from those film-developing sauces...

    Second, the poor opinion of surrounding voting citizens in a democracy, frequently assigned the dubious status of having neither reasoning-powers nor reliable memory.

    Third, a missionary 'didactic' agenda to reveal, teach, conclude, craft 'principles' to guide policies, probably to 'overrule' those deficient other folks.

    All capped off with grave suspicions of evil machinations...

    As they say, Sven et.al. "...been there, done that..." and won't allowed to be repeated in any serious scale where this could actually do damage.

    But since this is Online-World with all sorts of ideas...- by all means. And yet, where will this go ?

    In the meantime, no discussion of the 5-7 good reasons for Iraq-2 and why it was successful - not fully so, but good enough.

    Of course, it was made more expensive in blood and treasure by others' odd trading-practices going hand-in-hand with very noticeable (predictable ?) absenteeism when things 'hit the fan' under the motto - "Ich bin klein, mein Herz ist rein..."

    I can see the urge to keep scrubbing. But we seem deep into obsessive-compulsive stuff by now. And that is neither a 'philosophy' nor makes for sound political, fiscal and military decisions.

    While that 'life-style' is indulged in, others (again !) will do the 'heavy-lifting', while getting those lost resources back in other ways. Deeply-integrated, there is no way to not be affected one way or the other, no matter the head-in-the-sand reflexes. Which means that Sven's universe is continuously 'interventioned'-upon as we speak - despite his beliefs and protestations to the contrary.