Bye Bye 2020!
An year that taught everyone something......
Welcome to Decade of 2020, a newsletter with a relentless focus on how the next 10 years will affect the middle class. Forewarned is forearmed, they say. If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here. Or just continue to read…
What a crazy year 2020 has been? Enough has already been written about all the horrible stuff that happened. Therefore, let’s focus on something else.
What are the five key things that 2020 has given us a crash course in? These have have always existed but became unquestionably clear to many of us through the events of the past twelve months. Let’s review:
Narratives Are All That Matter: Truth Doesn’t. Facts Definitely Don’t.
Consider the May 13, 2002 cover of Time Magazine below. This was a few months after the gruesome attacks on the WTC towers and the Pentagon. Americans were still recovering from the “unimaginable” occurring on their home soil and media was still awash with news of the just war being waged in Afghanistan. But silently, the narrative experienced a shift: it was necessary after all, to condition the populace for what was coming up in order to build support.
At 5:34 AM Baghdad time on 20th of March 2003, the surprise military invasion of Iraq began. There was no declaration of war. The justification used: Weapons of Mass Destruction were being secretly developed by the tyrant’s regime.
We all know what happened with that. #LessonsOfHistory
The Fog Of War: Too Hot To Handle
If you new to this term, let us take a quick look at its definition:
The fog of war is the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations.
The keyword here is uncertainty. The decisions taken by the powers-that-be may appear to make no sense in the heat of the moment. It will make you wonder: Are they incompetent? Maybe. Are they corrupt? Most certainly. Is there a usual lag in the system that curbs efficient decision making on-the-fly? You bet! These factors and a multitude of others. However, it is also true that they are operating with a tiny amount of information. Plus, they have to decide, and fast. Democratic govts love to have a lot of data on hand and consensus among the supporting elite in order to make decisions. So it isn’t at all routine for them but watch for their course corrections - that is where you will find their judgement improving.If you are criticizing decisions made in the fog of war, you don't understand the nature of the problem. Judge the quality of the corrections, not the errors, and we'll get to the other side of this.
At the same time, moments of uncertainty will never be let go waste. It is a great time for passing draconian laws and obviously, prodigal spending!
Oh! the other thing: credible intel will get heavily suppressed and hurriedly pay-walled to be made available for certain discerning eyes only. Be it the real origins of the coronavirus or the true extent of the Solarwinds cyber attack on key US military and NATO infrastructure that came to light after the US elections.
The Ruthless Self-Interest of Nation States
I have written about this in one of the previous posts but this is a mental model whose use won’t hurt in case one wishes to predict how neighboring nation states or richer nation states will react/respond when there is a crisis ongoing. The fractures in the rules based global order are becoming greatly visible and chaos, which was the exception over the past seventy years, is rapidly becoming the norm. Dr. Michael Beckley, one of the guests we had on my podcast wrote a superb article in the Foreign Affairs magazine in this context - go check it out.
Necessity Of A Moral Dimension To Justify Overt Action
America cannot effectively focus on defending is absolute hegemony in the South China Sea if the middle east continues to distract it. The solution: Peace - at all costs. That is at least how I read the series of good news about peace “suddenly” breaking out all across the Middle East.
Great power competition is conducted on many fronts prior to one power making the grave decision of overtly attacking the other. One of the key steps of psychological warfare has to be hammered into place before that. It is always the inclusion of a moral dimension. Not to worry because it is currently underway👇.
The Modern Answer To Everything: Money Printing
This one is self-explanatory. Irrespective of the kind of crisis in the future, central banks will come to the rescue first - “the arsonists pretending to be the firemen” as the legendary Jim Grant puts it.
An important announcement…
There are some changes coming. Instead of once every month, I intend to publish this newsletter twice now. I scour through hundreds of articles, blog posts, podcasts and book excerpts every month. In process of doing that, I come across some gems which I felt I should be sharing with you directly. So, beginning in January 2021, you will an email with the following inside:
Top five articles I read that month;
One short video I found on YouTube;
One insightful podcast;
One thought-provoking tweet, and;
One quote I am pondering about.
If there’s a resulting model that gives you a better understanding of the current zeitgeist, and improves your decisions about the future, it is a win for me; as a writer, as a thinker and above all, as a fellow human.
I send this newsletter to 600 plus readers and I have heard a lot of good and constructive feedback from my readers. It has made this journey fulfilling. Just in case, you didn’t know how to reach me, here you go: decadeof2020blog [at] outlook [dot] com. Thanks.