"Resilience" was a huge buzzword a decade ago or so. I remember having been a regular reader at a blog that obsessed about it. Eventually, I stopped reading there because there seemed to be no insights, just chewing through the same idea over and over again. The "resilience" apostles also saw "resilience" everywhere, or at least being important everywhere. They had a hammer in the inventory and nails everywhere problem.

Nothing of what little I remember of all those "resilience" recipes looks relevant to the current crisis. "resilience" zealots were (IIRC) practising the subsidiarity principle: They thought that low level common sense (re)action was the key to "resilience". The current crisis appears to emphasise very, very different qualities*:
  1. having specialist expertise institutions
  2. paying attention to them, not to the usual universal dilettante talking heads
  3. not having idiots in big lever situations (this ranges from the one South Korean sect member to "let's pray" nonsense talkers to irresponsible media talking heads to heads of government)
  4. having emergency rules (distancing people from each other mostly) enacted
  5. in time
  6. and enforced by an effective police force
  7. having relevant industrial production capacities for very specific products

Very little points at neighbourhood self-organisation and self-help being a key factor. It's more like a nice-to-have feature.
Instead, resilience in this crisis seems to be about having a large-enough, sophisticated-enough economy and a both competent and decisively-acting government. It's a case study in favour of technocracy and a bit of temporary limited authoritarianism.

Thinking about it, all "resilience" preachers whom I remember seem to have been Americans. Maybe their "resilience" preaching was nothing but the typical American/anglophone selective anarchism combined with a buzzword?**


P.S.: On the other hand, I gotta be honest and admit that I did not do a full spectrum surveillance on "resilience" talk then or now. I may have looked at a niche.

*: Closing borders only delays unless you can close for real, and very early. Iceland stood a chance to escape completely, but its government failed. Other countries merely could have bought only a week or two by strict international travel restrictions. Closing borders for travel after the virus is already in the country with many cases is quite pointless. The outlawing or flights and train travels because of the too high density of crowds makes sense, but it makes then little sense to set different rules for travellers who mean to cross a border.
**: That's merely the nice interpretation, for I know of a more ugly possible explanation for why all that talk around 2010 came to be and that one is particularly American.

honourable mention; this came to my attention after I wrote the blog post and planned it for release on 28th: https://twitter.com/AndrewCesare/status/1242174265547468803 Brazil has a problem with #3.


When the shit hits the fan

The recent weeks were a convincing natural experiment to confirm what I had said and written again and again for well over a decade:

Things are different when the shit hits the fan.
Paradigms crumble. Inhibitions crumble. Resistances to action crumble.

It was unthinkable in January that intra-European borders would shut down for general travel. It was unthinkable that our societies could go into lockdown soon. Europeans don't even wear face masks when sick, how could they possibly resort to such extreme measures against a mere virus?

There was A LOT of shittalking about Western societies being too soft, to un-warlike, too demilitarised and so on for war.*

The shit hit the fan in the virus crisis and unthinkable measures and behaviour were the response.

A war - a real war, not some distant sandbox bullshit - would wake up the beast that Europe is. To force us into war would be a grave mistake. Students of history know what European prowess produces at war. It would be ugly, very, very large-scale ugly. 
Nobody could possibly "win" by participating in or even causing such a mess.



*: And I'm not even focusing on certain commenters here. It was (and is) really widespread.


Political paralysis in Europe

Political indecisiveness and paralysis is probably the biggest problem in Europe.

It's not a design fault of the EU's imperfect institutions and rules. The very same inability to act or at least react decisively can be seen on the national level in many European countries.

It's not all about resources, either. Sure, mature governments with slow-growing economies and many established vested interests face great difficulties when they need to reallocate resources, for all of the available resources are allocated and very few are being gained even during economic growth years. That still doesn't explain the paralysis on the many topics where very few resources would be needed for decisive and successful action. So it's not about resources, either.

There are some exceptions to the dominance of paralysis, but none seem very promising and applicable in most of Europe at the same time:
  • The Scandinavians and Dutch are rather progressive and willing to experiment, with occasional periods of arresting the development when conservatives take over for a while
  • Some erratic politicians make many proposals for action, but aren't really patient enough to first lay the groundwork for their success (recent French presidents)
  • Some extremist politicians call for decisive action, though usually with simplistic and unimpressive ideas
The German conservatives (now down to about a quarter of the vote in polls, but still likely to remain in power in next year's elections) are actual conservatives. German conservative politicians want to do hardly anything but passing a budget. They pass almost no reforms to speak of*, and the very few exceptions are almost invariably disasters**, which only feeds their disgust for change*. German conservatives dislike change and reform so much, they refuse to acknowledge the existence of problems to avoid accepting a need for action as long as possible. They pretend that no reform would work and staying the course is 'without alternatives' later on when the problem cannot be denied any more.

Other countries who have extremists disguised as conservatives can envy us for our conservatives. German conservatives are a fine alternative to reform-minded parties, usable as an occasional brake when the bus gets too quick. The German problem is that we've had our conservatives in power for about four decades, only shortly interrupted by neoliberals who disguised as social democrats. They broke more than they fixed IMO.

The German paralysis - the inability to muster decisive, successful action against a problem or in an opportunity - is thus a political one. Our voters kept voting for paralysis, it's our own fault. Well, it was always a minority, but a large one - and German political culture says that the biggest party in a governing coalition gets the head of government job and thus becomes dominant. That's how around 25% of our active voters (=less than 20% of our adults) can ensure paralysis even though there are hardly any self-blockade mechanisms in our constitution.

I strongly suspect that the reasons behind the obvious paralysis vary between countries. Some challenges are similar (such as youth unemployment in the Med area), while others are very country-specific. Still, decisive and successful action is hardly anywhere to be seen.
The Russian government can launch decisive action (though it's not motivated to do so on the most severe problems facing Russia), but it falls short in regard to successes.
The Chinese government can launch decisive action and met with many successes, though it needs enormous resources and a tyranny's arsenal to achieve this much.

Many people blame the weirdest things for our societies' prevailing problems, and I consider those bogeymen to be distractions. Our real problem is the paralysis, and handing power to extremists who delve in fantasyland and don't universally respect our constitutional freedoms is not a solution.
We should generally be much more diligent in our voting decisions. People only deserve political power above ordinary level (voting rights) if they respect the constitution and all the rights and protections it provides for everyone (yes, everyone - almost all rights in there apply to humans, not just citizens). Another condition should be that the candidate (or party) can be trusted to act decisively and successfully against problems or in opportunities. Conservatism is only fine in exceptional situations when there had been too much reform turmoil and some other party needs to clean up some failed experiments which the original experimenters won't clean up themselves.

Was this about defence and freedom? Yes it was, absolutely. Paralysis keeps us from proper military reforms, it keeps us from achieving more prosperity and resilience. The extremists who provide a fake alternative to failing parties are a threat to our freedom.


P.S.: Belgium and the UK are special cases and their kind of paralysis by temporary lack of parliament majorities on questions about the nature of the nation state isn't what I'm writing about.

*: CSU not excluded.
**: CSU included with emphasis. 


Link drop March 2020

edited following Wednesday:
I made a simplistic regression analysis of  the known SARS-CoV 2 infections in Germany. Today we had 1,567 known cases. That regression curve (exponential, which is justified by the indeed exponential growth of confirmed infection cases outside of the PRC) came up with well over two million cases in Germany by early April. I doubt it's going to be that many (because there are factors that are likely to slow it), but it looks to me as if we'll have hundreds of thousands of cases by early April. (I don't believe the arrest of the epidemic in the PRC at all and consider their stats to be implausible.)

A small disclaimer: Doing a regression analysis including the imported cases is imperfect. I just don't have the statistics for infections that happened in Germany or close to its borders. Those figures would be better if we assume shrinking travel activity. Moreover, the wikipedia stats don't agree with the tracker stats, which stand at 1,908 cases.
This is just a quick&dirty first approximation interpolation anyway.  Interpolations are notoriously unreliable.
COVID-19 cases so far (data taken from Wikipedia for convenience).
Vertical axis is logarithmic. So if the growth looks linear, it's really exponential.
Extrapolation assuming exponential growth
Again: I don't think it's going to look like this.
It's no good time for Germany to have a do-nothing-just-sit-it-out-and-enjoy-having-power political "leadership".

- - - - -

edited on Sunday:

- - - - -

edited later on Saturday:
(These figures are for the U.S. only.)

- - - - -

- - - - -

"Every war is easy to start, but it is extremely difficult to finish"
- attributed to Sallustius (though I never found the Latin original)
It's terribly true in our times, especially so if you are extremist in your expectations.

The Kosovo Air War was in some ways the ideal war; the victim had no substantial ability to retaliate and the aggressor could end the hot conflict at will. Lots of other things were terribly wrong about it, of course.

- - - - -

- - - - -

I'm German, so I'm entitled to this kind of humour.

- - - - -


DIRCM really seems to be compact enough for combat aircraft now. This may turn "stealth fighters" that cannot integrate DIRCM obsolete. A DIRCM-equipped aircraft may be highly resistant against both radar- and IR-guided missiles, while a stunted "stealth" fighter may be resistant only against radar-guided missiles. 
In case of irritation about the resistance of non-LO aircraft against radar-guided missiles: Look at the effects of multiple towed decoys, free-flying decoys launched from external hardpoints, and much more jamming than is to be expected from LO/VLO aircraft.

- - - - -

"The CIA Hacking Group (APT-C-39) Conducts Cyber-Espionage Operation on China's Critical Industries for 11 Years"

Well, of course they do. Anyone who believes the pretence about 'hacking back' is gullible.

- - - - -

I wish I had such illustrations about Germany. Such economic distress symptoms might be very informative. I'm still not sure what exactly has fuelled the expansion of extreme right wing idiocy in recent years. The migration topic and exposure to idiotic American right wingers through the internet may not have been the only triggers.

- - - - -


- - - - -


Maybe it takes a Ph.D. in Levant studies to understand what's going on there.

- - - - -

- - - - -


- - - - -


- - - - -


I suppose they roll the tech out because of Hong Kong protests, not because of the (probably largely ineffective) surgical masks. 

- - - - -


They knew something in advance ...

- - - - -

 Just WOW!

- - - - -

Decades of war on science and war on factual education come home to roost.
- - - - -

Biomachines, yet another Science Fiction coming true.

- - - - -


- - - - -

Bei einem solchen Fehlverhalten von Bürokraten würde ich rücksichtslos mindestens zwei Führungsebenen und jeden anderen Beteiligten mit lebenslanger Beförderungssperre belegen, diverse Leute ersetzen und für mehrere Jahre alle Polizeioffiziere der Stadt (also die mit den goldenen Dienstgradabzeichen, höherer Dienst) erbarmungslos in Nachtschichten, Fußballspieleinsätze, Objektschutzeinsätze usw schicken. Am Ende sollten die und alle ähnlichen Bürokraten drumherum eine Lektion für's Leben gelernt haben.