Posts Tagged ‘geopolitics’

By Richard Martin

Fascism is the worldview, the Weltanschauung, that sees the grassroots, deeply felt social solidarity and cohesion of nations as both a model and a threat. Fascism is thus an attempt to recreate the same level and type of social cohesion as what reigns seemingly naturally and effortlessly in liberal democracies, but from the top down, rather than the bottom up and laterally between individuals.

Similarly to socialism, fascism sees independent centres of social solidarity, cooperation, and community as threats to this top-down cohesion. Both are inherently collectivist in nature, but in different ways. Whereas socialism and its revolutionary incarnation, communism, see these threats and the need to united authority and control in terms of transnational classes and other categories (e.g., gender, sex, race), fascism sees the nation or people (e.g., German Volk) as the basis of top-down control, authority, and cohesion.

German National Socialism (i.e., Nazism) and Italian Fascism were the primary incarnations of “small f” fascism in the 1st half of the 20th century, with the disastrous consequences of World War 2 as main effects.

Current Russian nationalism, let’s call it Putinism, is a variety and instantiation of “small f” fascism. When I say, “small f,” I specifically mean that it stems from the same worldview as Italian Fascism and German Nazism of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. That worldview interprets Western power and, especially, success, prosperity, and cultural attractiveness as a threat to the solidarity, cohesion, and security of the Russian nation, defined in a wide sense to include White Russians (Belarusians) and Little Russians (Ukrainians) in addition to Great Russians (Russians proper).

From this perspective, Putinism is an ideology of resentment, envy, frustration, and anger. It views all Western influences as subversive of Russian purity and security. The military doctrine of Russian “hybrid war” (gybridnaya voyna) tries to distill the secrets of Western success and cultural magnetism as encroachments and offensive manoeuvres. It identifies a “Western playbook” for world hegemony, particularly from the American perspective, and tries to apply the same playbook to Russian defence and counter-encroachment.

Western observers who say that Russia’s concerns vis à vis NATO, the United States, Europe… and Ukraine, fall into the trap of accepting Kremlin claims of being surrounded and under foreign domination and threat of invasion at face value. Just like Russian fascists and other Putinists around the world, they are blinded to the basic truth that Western, and especially American/Anglo-Saxon cultural, political, social, and economic “hegemony” stem from the inherent attractiveness and magnetism of Western values and civilization, not from any master plan for world domination. (That would also include those in the West who fear the World Economic Forum.)

This article is just a first installment of what is proving to be a fundamental metanoia for me. It is a journey of “seeing through the world.” I hope you will accompany me on this adventure.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

man looking at a tentacle monster that destroys the city, digital art style, illustration painting (c) grandfailure

There is a widespread belief that poverty and inequality are causes of war and aggression. It’s the other way around. War is the cause of poverty, famine, pestilence and misery.

War is caused by people who are unwilling to create valuable products and services to trade for other people’s valuable products and services. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Maduro, etc. never worked a day in their lives.

Aggressors are thieves and bullies. They prefer to steal and murder to create their own prosperity for themselves and their supporters. Everybody else can go to hell as far as they are concerned.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He now plies his trade as an information warrior and strategic advisor to leaders and decision-makers. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

There are those times in life when we get a revelation, and a great truth appears in a flash of insight.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on 24 February, I’ve been having about 3 of those a day. This morning though (March 1st), I had the biggest one of all, as intimated by the title of this article. In fact, my worldview has altered significantly in the last few hours. In a nutshell, Russia was the threat all along!

I know, that sounds idiotic. “What do you call the Cold War?” True enough, but my realization goes deeper than that. The Soviet Union was Russia garbed in an attractive to some (many), and not just Lenin’s “useful idiots.” And this on a global scale.

The end of the Cold War and the dismemberment of the USSR ended the Marxist-Leninist fiasco that had threatened freedom and peace around the world in 1989-91. Western countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond, we all greeted Russia with open arms into the community of nations.

We assumed that, with the Communists out of power, Russia would become a “normal” country again. Leningrad reverted to its old name, Saint-Petersburg. Former Soviet Socialist republics were left to their own devices for a few years. Western countries extended friendly relations and offered credit, investment, and relatively free trade. The United States scrapped its remaining space shuttle and entrusted its astronauts to the Soyuz rockets of Roscosmos flying from Baikonur. We built a massive international space station with key modules and components from Russia. The United States even allowed critical launch providers and rocket builders like United Launch Alliance to put Russian rocket engines in Atlas V rockets, many of them used to put American defence satellites on orbit!

But Russia claims to be surrounded and threatened by Europe, NATO, and especially, the United States. The goal is to reconstitute a Grossrussland consisting of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, the cost be damned. After that, will the Baltics, Moldova, and eastern Poland be next?

I was an infantry officer in the Canadian Army for 21 years (1985-2006). I served with Canada’s NATO brigade in Germany from 1988 to 91. I was there when the Wall came down, when Ceausescu and his wife were murdered, when German Chancellor Helmut Kohl rolled the dice and integrated East Germany, reuniting Berlin in the process. I was there when Soviet hardliners staged an attempted coup in 1991 and Boris Yeltsin rose to the occasion. And I was also there when the Soviet Union dissolved itself in late 1991 and Ukraine affirmed its independence in a national referendum.

And now it dawns on me. NATO has always been a defensive alliance against Russia, not the Soviet Union. The latter was the Russian bear in Marxist-Leninist garb. If you can, watch or listen to Jordan Peterson’s interview with Prof. Frederick Kagan on Russia’s history and designs. It is a sobering reminder that Russia has been fearful of its neighbours for centuries.

To this you can add a video by Peter Zeihan of a briefing last year to US Army officers. He explains the geopolitical and strategic situation clearly and succinctly, complete with pictures to reinforce the point.

We need to realize that World War III has started. It’s not unfolding the way any of us expected, especially after watching the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the poverty and corruption of Russia since 1991. A clique of murderous psychopaths and exploitative oligarchs is running Russia, and they very well take Eurasia down their country in this last-ditch reckless gamble.

At this point in the rapidly evolving situation, I consider that the probability of escalation is high. At some point, NATO and like-minded countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas will be drawn into the fighting. Right now, this is limited arms shipments, and war on the moral plane: economic/financial sanctions, cyberwarfare, psychological operations, information warfare. Ukraine needs serious air power right now, and it can only be provided by NATO and the United States. When that happens, all bets will be off. It can happen, and the odds are high.

I don’t mean to be alarmist, but that’s what I see right now.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin is a veteran, thinker, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable signals from all the noise.

The Current Situation

Posted: February 21, 2022 in Geopolitics

by Richard Martin

I’ve changed my mind. The use of the Emergencies Act for a public order emergency is justified in the particular circumstances we are and have been facing. My change of mind concerning the need to declare a national public order emergency does not mean I have changed my mind about:

a) The need for free, informed consent of all medical and health procedures
b) The right to free speech, free assembly, free association
c) The moral right, and sometimes even obligation, to oppose tyranny through civil disobedience, if that is the only recourse left after all others have been tried
d) The Emergencies Act was not and remains unnecessary to deal with the blockades and occupations at Coutts AB, Windsor ON, and Ottawa.

With that said, there are sometimes imperatives of a higher order. The imperatives of which I speak pertain to national security, national sovereignty, and geopolitical threats. I served for 26 years as an infantry officer in the Canadian Army (R22eR). I take these imperatives seriously.

Rather than assume the worst about our prime minister and his cabinet, I decided to try to see the situation from their perspective, in geopolitical and national strategic terms. From this, I have come to the provisional conclusion that the threat to Canada is clear and specific. It does not come from a few malcontents and a spontaneous outpouring of frustration against all our governments.

Need I point out that almost all of the restrictions and mandates we have faced in the last two years have originated with provincial governments, not the federal government? This is because provinces are responsible for health care and most public health measures.

On the other hand, the federal government has the constitutional and moral responsibility to uphold the sovereignty of Canada and the security of Canadians. This is not just a matter of defending and securing against kinetic, physical threats, but also economic, financial, political, and informational.

The threat is geopolitical and global in scope. This is not about the World Economic Forum, Trump supporters, neo-Nazis, or opposition to mask mandates.

Those of us who have studied military history, strategy, and warfare know that wars involve the physical and moral planes of action. Modern wars are even more complex, and involve the physical plane of kinetic energy, mobility, and technology, combined with psychological and informational struggle in the cybersphere. There can be fighting over the hearts and minds of people, and also over financial systems in cyberspace.

We need to ask ourselves, who could possibly muster the type of resources and know how needed to shut down massive utilities, banking infrastructure, financial channels, and communications networks? The power to do this kind of work is beyond the scope and capability of any non-state actor in the world.

If you ask yourself these questions, you too might have a change of mind and come to see what is happening right now before our very eyes.

#EmergenciesAct #cdnpoli #geopolitics

©️Richard Martin

By Richard Martin

Understand and apply the action framework of ends, ways, and means

  • Identify your highest end(s).
  • Develop your hierarchy of ends.
  • Identify the factors that influence the achievement of these ends.
  • Conduct option analysis to identify and evaluate optimal ways of achieving selected ends.
  • Allocate means to selected ends.
  • Understand that the action framework is a nested, hierarchical framework. The ways and means to achieve an end are in their turn the end, with their own subordinate ways and means. This goes on all the way to the bottom.

General Strategic and Security Factors

  • Geopolitical:
    • What is happening geopolitically?
    • How does it affect me?
    • What is likely to happen in the short, medium, and long-term future?
  • National strategic:
    • What is happening strategically at the national level?
    • How does it affect me?
    • What is likely to happen?
  • National political
  • Economic and financial
  • Personal

Information Factors

  • Basic thing to remember: Most news is noise.
  • Remember the two most important rules of peacekeeping:
    • First information is usually (sometimes always) wrong.
    • Don’t overreact.
  • Sharing is not necessarily caring.
  • Consider that no media source is objective or unbiased.
  • All have an editorial policy and an agenda.
  • All messages are means to an end.
  • Triangulate information:
    • Does it come from more than one source?
    • Is the information valid?
    • Are the sources reliable?
    • Does the information fit into an analytical or logical framework or template?
  • Evaluate the content of the message (regardless of source and perceived ideological or political alignment):
    • Is the text grammatical?
    • Are there typos?
    • Does it make sense?
    • Are the claims far-fetched?
    • What is the evidence being presented?
    • Is the “evidence” first-hand and documented, or is it hearsay?
      • For example: “Someone I know has a friend who told their neighbour that they heard that something happened at an uncertain time and non-specific place.”
    • Does it appear to be formulated to provoke an emotional reaction?
    • Is the author using ad hominem attacks?
    • Does the author engage in demonization or hero-worship?
    • How are you reacting to the news or the information?
      • Are you upset, angry, outraged, happy, elated, sad, bitter, etc.?

Cognitive Factors

  • Consider your own biases.
  • Evaluate the biases of others.
  • Evaluate all information and behaviour/action considering known or properly estimated ends, ways, and means (i.e., apply the action framework to yourself and others).
  • Evaluate your own logical fallacies.
  • Consider the possibility that you make be wrong.
  • Interpret messages and information as charitably as possible and until you have clear and specific evidence of ill intent.
  • Consider that the other person may know something you don’t.
  • Ask yourself what you would do or how you would react in the same situation.
  • Have you considered the strongest arguments possible (steelman rather than strawman) for the opposing side?

Social Factors

  • Who are you talking to?
  • Who is in your social circle?
  • Are you engaging in honest exchange and dialogue, or simply trying to win a debate?
  • Are you trying to see the situation from a higher perspective (geopolitical, strategic, economic, etc.)?
  • Are you trying to see the situation or events from the point of view of others, especially those you oppose?

© Richard Martin

I wish to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May we all live in interesting times, and find opportunities to grow and thrive.
It’s always good to take stock when readying for the future. In the interests of sharing some of my recent observations, I provide this list of my “lessons learned” from 2016. Not all directly related to business, but still enlightening I should think.
  1. We need demanding goals. In late 2015 the Trudeau government committed to admitting 25,000 Syrian refugees quickly. Initially, it was by the 31st of December 2015, then by the middle of February 2016 (or something to that effect). The initial timeline was missed, but it appears the second one was mostly met. There were plenty of nay-sayers, but ultimately, the goal was achieved. Had Trudeau set the goal at 5,000 refugees, we probably would have struggled to meet that. He had the guts to set a high goal, which put everyone into overdrive. Kudos!
  2. It ain’t over… till it’s over. Yogi Berra’s favourite saying about baseball games was very true this year, especially in the political arena. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was declared dead and buried several times since mid-2015, but he always seemed to rebound. Whether you like him or not, he stayed until the end and proved a lot of people wrong.
  3. Homo homini lupus. That’s a Roman saying: “Man is a wolf to man.” As we saw in Syria, Turkey (Kurdish terrorism), Northern Iraq, France (Islamic terror), Europe (with the migrant crisis), and other hotspots around the world, there is no lack of barbarity these days. I like to think of myself as a political and strategic realist. People are capable of great feats of generosity and hope (see point 1), but atavistic tendencies can also surge in a heartbeat.
  4. Geography still exists. Geopolitics and geostrategic interests are the main drivers of international conflicts and tensions. European countries are dependent on Russia’s oil and gas. Consequently, they don’t want to upset Russia too much. Russia wants to control the Crimea because that’s its only guaranteed access to the Black Sea. By extension, Russia and Turkey are in a rapprochement because the only access to the Mediterranean is through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. I could go on; these are only two examples in one region of how geography continues to dominate international politics, economics and strategy.
  5. Leadership matters. Who’s in charge and how they’re leading and managing the situation make a major difference in performance and events. It’s evident in politics, but we can also see it play out in business. For instance, Microsoft is becoming a leader again after floundering for over a decade. That is largely attributable to the outstanding leadership of the new CEO Satya Nadella.
  6. Elegant scientific theories still need evidence. Without much notice, two of the most cherished theories in physics appear to be on their respective deathbeds. Many physicists have staked their careers on finding dark matter and proving supersymmetry. The first supposedly makes up about five sixths of all the matter in the universe, but efforts to observe it are leading nowhere. The second is needed to make the sub-atomic world comprehensible and is one of the key explanations of dark matter, but the Large Hadron Collider in Europe has eliminated all but the most unlikely candidate models. Things are going to change in a major way in the coming years and decades in physics, possibly as fundamentally as the relativity and quantum revolutions (which gave us microelectronics, nanotech, and nuclear energy, among many other things).
  7. The universe is mind-bendingly big …and inhospitable to life as we know it. We learned a few months ago that there is an earth-like planet in orbit around the nearest star to our solar system. But unlike in science fiction, it would take well over 100,000 years using current understanding (and likely future technology) to reach it. Heck, it took 9.5 years for the New Horizons spacecraft to reach Pluto, and it is the fastest spaceship ever launched. Suspended animation anyone? There is still no sign of life on Mars. Getting there would probably kill any life form, just because of solar radiation. Maybe we should cherish our presence here on earth a bit more…
Remember Richard’s Business Readiness Process in 2017!
  1. Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
  2. Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
  3. Activate organization or team.
  4. Conduct reconnaissance.
  5. Do detailed situational estimate.
  6. Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
  7. Perform risk management and contingency planning.
  8. Communicate plan and issue direction.
  9. Build organizational robustness.
  10. Ensure operational continuity.
  11. Lead and control execution.
  12. Assess performance.

Call me if you would like a 90-minute Business Readiness Briefing in early 2017!

My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.

© 2016 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

The Obama Administration seems quite clueless about realpolitik. It’s foreign policy reduces to “be nice and hope for the best.” They need to grow some cojones. Cancelling a meeting with Putin is nothing compared to real leverage.

The Russians are not Western allies, and never have been. I think I read last week or something in the WSJ that Putin is a classic strongman. He has to be perceived as strong in order to maintain his power. If he looses power, he’s probably going to end up the same way that Mubarak did in Egypt, which is also what awaits Assad. Or worse, like Saddam or Khaddafi.

The US and its Western allies should be doing things to put Putin on the spot and force him back. But since Obama came to power, there has been nothing but “strong words” and posturing, but no real action, from what I can perceive. The idea of cancelling plans for ballistic missile defence in eastern Europe without any Russian concessions set the tone. The Russians are trying to push everyone around in the Arctic. Surely there is something to be done.

On the other hand, I don’t perceive that the US has a very strong hand right now. For instance, NASA is completely dependent on the Russians for sending astronauts into space and bringing them back. The Russians have maintained their position in space and consequently have a lot of concrete leverage. They also send a lot of natural gas to Europe. The Western countries have been saving the Russians from themselves since the end of the Cold War by helping them disarm and clean up their nuclear mess. However, striking at that might not be a good idea because it could lead to proliferation.

If the Obama administration isn’t doing this kind of assessment, they need to start right now and use it to good effect. Why not expulse a few Russian diplomats? I’m sure there are few that could be caught spying. Or how about saying something to embarass Putin, put him on the spot and diminish him in the eyes of the Russian people?

The Great Game is on (it was never off), so Obama needs to get in gear and start pressuring the Soviets… oops I mean the Russians. Talk is good, but so is real leverage.

© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.