Thursday, December 28, 2023

The Unthinkable

If "interesting" is defined as causing one to think about things one hasn't considered nor likely would otherwise consider, then I just read the most interesting article of the year done by macroeconomist Philip Pilkington for The National Interest. Read it and scare yourself half to death.

Pilkington writes about the changing economics of warfare. Cheap weapons of attack, based on inexpensive civilian tech, are making obsolete the expensive and elaborate weapon systems prized by advanced militaries, things like tanks and warships. 

The first place this became apparent was in the successful attack launched by Azerbaijan on Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. There cheap drones beat up Armenian armor. 

Both sides are developing and using cheap weapons in Ukraine, based on things like camera drones and homemade rockets. The Houthis have effectively blockaded the Red Sea with relatively cheap drones and missiles Iran gives them. Imagine when soon your 3-D printer can churn out IEDs and RPGs.


Pilkington doesn't consider that, faced with a peasant enemy driving them nuts doing pinprick attacks using cheap weapons, eventually some powers will resort to genocide. A dead enemy launches no attacks. The animal control officer model is replaced by the Orkin man approach.

At some point the unthinkable becomes thinkable, then becomes doable, and finally becomes routine.