Friday, August 18, 2006

I gave up playing wargames many years ago when I found that they had to resort to artificial contrivances to attempt to simulate the elements of logistics, intelligence, convergence and sacrifice that dominate military success factors. A decade and a bit ago I tried a computer wargame ("V for Victory: Velikiye Luki"), but with perfect intelligence, I knew where the computer opponent's fixed supply lines were, so with some sacrifices to breakthrough the lines, I converged on these and before the end of the game all enemy units were eliminated. This would be an impossible outcome in the real situation.

In recent years one of the best writers on military related issues has been Martin Van Creveld. He has produced two landmark books, Transformation of War (1991) and Supplying War (1976, new issue 2004), the latter covering the mostly ignored but crucial issue of logistics. For well-thought-out discussion on these writings, see this:

The Van Creveld Factor

Here are two fascinating sets of insights by Van Creveld, with the warning that he can be a "controversialist" as the above referenced discussion notes.

Interview with Van Creveld

As history since Hiroshima shows, the best, perhaps the only, way to curb war is to deter it with such overwhelming force as to turn it from a struggle into suicide. The best way to mitigate it is to use all possible means to bring it to a speedy end. I think both Clausewitz and Sun Tzu would agree on these points.

Then in a masterpiece article covering all the key elements, Van Creveld nails it:

Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did
In international life, an armed force that keeps beating down on a weaker opponent will be seen as committing a series of crimes; therefore it will end up by losing the support of its allies, its own people, and its own troops. Depending on the quality of the forces - whether they are draftees or professionals, the effectiveness of the propaganda machine, the nature of the political process, and so on - things may happen quickly or take a long time to mature. However, the outcome is always the same. He (or she) who does not understand this does not understand anything about war; or, indeed, human nature.

Wargames show the direct military outcome, but they do not show the longer term human one.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

To get lots of hits in google, type:

movie ridiculous implausible

Movies fail us when they become, or remain, unbelievable, yet many movies are littered with implausible actions that appear ridiculous to the viewer. This is bad business: critics will pan the movie, and viewers will not recommend these movies to others, so word-of-mouth marketing will not take place, and even DVD sales will be poor.

One such failure was the "The Island". First I should note that the title is all wrong from a marketing standpoint, and I'm surprised focus group testing did not bring this out (first question to ask: "would you want to see a movie call the Island?"). Second, without giving away the plot, there is an action scene that involves a transport truck with large objects falling of it, vehicles skirting back and forward of it, and many terrific accidents happening just behind it. Of course the truck driver seems blissfully unaware of losing his truck load or anything else happening around him and continues on his way. This is just one of many holes in the plot that one can, well, drive a truck through.

Movie: The Island

Btw the camera work and FX of the movie were enjoyable, so it makes a nice diversion, much like the ridiculous, implausible, and well-made "National Treasure" does too.

Trying for the most ridiculous is:

Alone in the Dark

Theatre goers who saw this silly thing must have been alone in the dark.

The movie "Head in the Clouds" has two of the most beautiful actresses of our time, and a historical plot to boot:

Movie: Head in the Clouds

Here is Stuart Townsend having a tough day on the set:

Stuart with co-stars

Sadly this melodrama contains some ridiculous and implausible actions near the end (which I will not reveal since they are plot spoilers) that, imo, ruin the movie. This movie had a chance to do very well if they had gotten the ending right. C'est dommage.