The Insurgents… the Plot to Change the American Way of War… Extracts

The Inurgents CoverBold emphases added

Page 355: The officials involved in these new discussions understood the president’s–and the American public’s–reluctance to get embroiled in another Iraq. But they were also keen to preserve what the Chiefs were now calling the “lessons learned from 10 years of war.” Among these lessons: that conflicts of the future are likely to be a mix of offense, defense, and stability operations; that, in such wars, awareness of the local culture would be as important as an assessment of the enemy’s order of battle; and that, therefore, it was essential to retain officers who were skilled in the sort of warfare–and to educate and train the coming generation of officers in its principles and techniques.

Page 358: One space they filled was to transform the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, a school for armor and infantry officers at Fort Benning, Georgia, into a training ground for “full-spectrum operations,” combining tank maneuvers with counterinsurgency and humanitarian assistance, devising scenarios and exercises in which junior officers would have to switch back and forth from one mode of warfare to another, teaching them how to make judgments and decisions in a complex environment.

Page 361: By the time he hung up his uniform, not quite five years after signing his counterinsurgency manual, the American Army had evolved into a different institution. It was more flexible, more adaptive; it was in John Nagl’s phrase, a “learning organization.”

In the aftermath of wars, especially unpopular ones, armies tend to revert to traditional practices. But this was less likely to happen after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There would be no going back to a frame of mind that defined “war” strictly as a titanic clash between uniformed foes of comparable strength–and not just because the prospective foe in that clash, the Soviet Union, had in the meantime imploded. Another factor at play was that an entire generation of American officers had risen through the ranks fighting what were once called small wars, waged among the people in villages and cities, wars in which lieutenants often took as much initiative as commanders, and soldiers of all rank were attentive to the local culture as to the enemy’s order of battle.

It was extremely unlikely that official Army doctrine would ever again refer to these sorts of battles as “low-intensity conflicts,” much less as “military operations other than war.” The colonels and generals of the post-Petraeus era had spent what seemed like a lifetime fighting in these sorts of battle; they were not low intensity, and they certainly felt like wars.

Page 362: But knowing how to fight these wars didn’t necessarily mean winning them. There’s an old military adage: “The enemy has a vote.” You can go into battle with a brilliant plan, but if the enemy adapts and shifts gears, the plan is rendered worthless after the first shots are fired. In counterinsurgency wars, it’s not just the enemy that has a vote; the ally does, too. If you send troops overseas to bolster a regime whose leaders lack legitimacy or the will to reform, the most brilliant strategy–and strategist–will have little chance of prevailing.

-Text: The Insurgents, 2013, Fred Kaplan, 418 pages

Ladders by Ludwig Wittgenstein

ladders"My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them – as steps – to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)"

text courtesy Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1918, 6.54, Ludwig Wittgenstein

Nondual by Ken Wilber

dualityIn that gap between the subject and the object lies the entire misery of humankind.

"You know the Zen koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Usually, of course, we need two hands to clap – and that is the structure of typical experience. We have a sense of ourselves as a subject in here, and the world as an object out there. We have these "two hands" of experience, the subject and the object. And typical experience is a smashing of these two hands together to make a commotion, a sound. The object out there smashes into me as a subject, and I have an experience – the two hands clapped together and experience emerges.

"And so the typical structure of experience is like a punch in the face. The ordinary self is the battered self – it is utterly battered by the universe "out there." The ordinary self is a series of bruises, of scars, the results of these two hands of experience smashing together. This bruising is called "duhka," suffering. As Krishnamurti used to say, in that gap between the subject and the object lies the entire misery of humankind.

"But with the nondual state, suddenly there are not two hands. Suddenly, the subject and the object are one hand. Suddenly, there is nothing outside if you to smash into you, bruise you, torment you. Suddenly, you do not have experience, you are every experience that arises, and so you are instantly released into all space: you and the entire Kosmos are one hand, one experience, one display, one gesture of great perfection. There is nothing outside of you that you can want, or desire, or seek, or grasp – your soul expands to the corners of the universe and embraces all with infinite delight. You are utterly Full, utterly Saturated, so full and saturated that the boundaries to the Kosmos completely explode and leave you without date or duration, time or location, awash in an ocean of infinite care. You are released into the All, as the All – you are the self-seen radiant Kosmos, you are the universe of One Taste, and the taste is utterly infinite.

"So what is the sound of that one hand clapping? What is the taste of that One Taste? When there is nothing outside of you that can hit you, hurt you, push you, pull you – what is the sound of that one hand clapping?

"See the sunlight on the mountains? Feel the cool breeze? What is not utterly obvious? Who is not already enlightened? As a Zen Master put it, "When I heard the sound of the bell ringing, there was no I, and no bell, just the ringing." There is no twiceness, no twoness, in immediate experience! No inside and no outside, no subject and no object – just immediate awareness itself, the sound of one hand clapping.

"So you are not in here, on this side of a transparent window, looking at the Kosmos out there. The transparent window has shattered, your bodymind drops, your are free of that confinement forever, you are no longer "behind your face" looking at the Kosmos – you simply are the Kosmos. You are all that. Which is precisely why you can swallow the Kosmos and span the centuries, and nothing moves at all. The sound of this one hand clapping is the sound the Big Bang made. It is the sound of supernovas exploding in space. It is the sound of the robin singing. It is the sound of a waterfall in a crystal–clear day. It is the sound of the entire manifest universe – and you are that sound.

"Which is why your Original Face is not in here. It is the sheerest Emptiness or transparency of this shimmering display. If the Kosmos is arising, you are that. If nothing arises, you are that. In either case, you are that. In either case, you are not in here. The window has shattered. The gap between the subject and object is gone. There is no twiceness, no twoness, to be found anywhere – the world is never given to you twice, but always only once – and you are that. You are that One Taste.

"This state is not something you can bring about. This nondual state, this state of One Taste, is the very nature of every experience before you slice it up. This One Taste is not some experience you bring about through effort; rather, it is the actual condition of all experience before you do anything to it. This uncontrived state is prior to effort, prior to grasping, prior to avoiding. It is the the real world before you do anything to it, including the effort to "see it nondually."

"So you don’t have to do something special to awareness or two experience in order to make it nondual. It starts out nondual, it’s very nature is nondual – prior to any grasping, any effort, any contrivance. If effort arises, fine; if effort doesn’t arise, fine; in either case, there is only the immediacy of One Taste, prior to effort and non-effort alike.

"So this is definitely not a state that is hard to get into, but rather one that is impossible to avoid. It has always been so. There has never been a moment when you did not experience One Taste – it is the only constant in entire Kosmos, it is the only reality in all of reality. In a million billion years, there has never been a single second that you weren’t aware of this Taste; there has never been a single second where it wasn’t directly in your Original Face like a blast of arctic air.

"Of course, we have often lied to ourselves about this, we have often been untruthful about this, the universe of One Taste, the primordial sound of one hand clapping, our own Original Face. And the nondual traditions aim, not to bring about the state, because that is impossible, but simply to point it out to you so that you can no longer ignore it, no longer lie to yourself about who you really are."

text courtesy A Brief History Of Everything, 2000, pp. 207-209, Ken Wilber
image courtesy Motherhood Deleted

Divided by James P. Carse

The Divided Self image is one is a series of 50 self portraits made over the last 10 years.  It is inspired by R.D.  Laing's 1960 book of that name.  Dr. Laing explains how we all exist in a world as beings, defined by others who carry a model of us in their heads, just as we carry models of them in our heads.  Our feelings and motivations derive very much from this condition of existing for others, who exist for us. Without this we suffer "ontological insecurity", a condition often expressed in terms of 'being dead' by people who are clearly still physically alive."The reciprocity of game and world has another, deeper effect on the persons involved. Because the seriousness of finite play the rise from the players’ need to correct another’s putative assessment of themselves, there is no requirement that the audience be physically present, since players are already their own audience. Just as in finite sexuality where the absence or death of parents has no effect on the child’s determination to prove them wrong, finite players become their own hostile observers in the very act of competing.

"I cannot be a finite player without being divided against myself.

"A similar dynamic is found in the audience. When sufficiently oblivious to their status as audience, the observers of a finite game become so absorbed in its conduct that they lose the sense of distance between themselves and the players. It is they, quite as much as the players, who win or lose. For this reason the audience absorbs in itself the same politics of resentment that moves players to show they are not what they think others think they are. The audience is under the same constraint to disprove this judgment.

"When we asked where an audience will find its own audience, we discover the division inherent in all audiences. Each side of the conflict comes with its own partisan observers. Insomuch as the conflict is expressed within a bounded playing a game, the audience is unified – but it’s unity consists in its opposition to itself.

"We cannot become a world without being divided against ourselves."

text courtesy Finite and Infinite Games, 1986, pp. 110-11, James P. Carse
image courtesy
Zen Lawyer Seattle

Healing by James P. Carse

hug"The character of touching can be seen quite clearly in the way infinite players understand both healing and sexuality.

"If to be touched is to respond from one’s center, it is also to respond as a whole person. To be whole is to be hale, or healthy. In sum, whoever is touched is healed.

"The finite players interest is not in being healed, or made whole, but in being cured, or made functional. Healing restores me to play, curing restores me to competition in one or another game.

"Physicians who cure must abstract persons into functions. They treat the illness, not the person. And persons willfully present themselves as functions. Indeed, what sustains the enormous size and cost of the curing professions is the widespread desire to see oneself as a function, or a collection of functions. To be ill is to be dysfunctional; to be dysfunctional is to be unable to compete in one’s preferred contests. It is a kind of death, and inability to acquire titles. The ill become invisible. Illness always has the smell of death about it: Either it may lead to death, where it leads to the death of a person as a competitor. The dread of illness is the dread of losing.

"One is never ill in general. One is always ill with relation to some bounded activity. It is not cancer that makes me ill. It is because I cannot work, or run, or swallow that I am ill with cancer. The loss of function, the obstruction of an activity, cannot in itself destroy my health. I am too heavy to fly by flapping my arms, but I do not for that reason complained of being sick with weight. However, if I desired to be a fashion model, a dancer, or jockey, I would consider excessive weight to be a kind of disease and would be likely to consult a doctor, a nutritionist, or another specialist to be cured of it.

"When I am healed I am restored to my center in a way that my freedom as a person is not compromised by my loss of functions. This means that the illness need not be eliminated before I can be healed. I am not free to the degree that I can overcome my infirmities, but only to the degree that I can put my infirmities into play. I am cured of my illness; I am healed with my illness.

"Healing, of course, has all the reciprocity of touching. Just as I cannot touch myself, I cannot heal myself but healing requires no specialist, only those who can come to us out of their own center; and who are prepared to be healed themselves."

text courtesy Finite and Infinite Games, 1986, pp. 91-92, James P. Carse
image courtesy Oh My Goodness IDK Maybe