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Afghanistan

A simple question, "Should the US and NATO troops withdaw from Afghanistan?" has no simple answer, but a rather complex one. The simplistic answer is, "Of course, because we should have never been there in the first place." But as one might expect, simplistic answers are often without merit.

So why were we there in the first place? President Joe Biden said to fight terrorism. Therein lies logical fallacy number two: one cannot wage a war on terrorism any more than a war against lying and cheating. Terrorism is not an enemy but a tactic an enemy might use against us and one cannot win a war against a tactic. The source of terrorism is a difference in ideology: Islam vs. Judeo-Christiandom.

This leads us to fallacy number one: a problem can only be solved in the domain in which it is defined, where it is created. One cannot solve an arithmetic problem with a hammer any more than an ideological conflict with military means or a health crisis with legal means. We simply must stop fighting wars that cannot be won.

A military must have a clear mission: an indentifiable and identified enemy as well as a crisp vision of victory. In the absence of these, winning is not possible. Is it possible that the purpose of the wars in Aghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries was not victory but to just wage wars at a cost of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars?

Yes, we should have withdrawn from Afghanistan. (America doesn't lose wars, we just withdraw.) However, the withdrawal should have been painstakingly planned to ensure the protection and security of evacuees and the assets deployed, which was clearly lacking. This is not to assign blame, because when faced with something having gone awry, I am only interested in three things: how to fix it, how to prevent it from happening again and what we can learn from the experience.

How to fix it? Forget about some arbitrary deadline someone pulled out of the air. Use all available resources to protect and secure the evacuees and resources deployed. How to prevent it? Should a similar situation arise, painstakingly plan the process of evacuation for the safe removal of personnel and materiel. What have we learned? I hope this post answers the question.

If you liked the post — weather you agree with it or not — would you post a link to it far and wide so I may learn form insightful comments? I would appreciate it.

From Data to Wisdom

Never have so many been interested in data mining, machine learning, BIG data and artificial intelligence. The phrases have become the linchpins of many a successful career. Yet, the deeper understanding of how data becomes wisdom often eludes us. I will attempt to add a bit of clarity.

6. That is a piece of data. Meaningless, right? Six what? What does it mean? Data becomes information with context. If we add context, as in "There are six chairs in this conference room," it gains meaning, it becomes information. Perhaps not very useful info, but info nonetheless.

Information becomes knowledge when experience is added to it. If we add to the above information the experience expressed as the average number of people attending meetings in this room over the past two years is eight, the highest number was 11 and the lowest was two with a standard deviation of 1.8, then we have some knowledge that may lead to a decision to order two or three more chairs.

Now for the tough part: how does knowledge become wisdom, especially actionable wisdom? There are many knowledgable people in the world but very few wise ones. It might be educational to ponder the reasons for this, but that is not my goal. Knowledge becomes wisdom when it is used to achieve some noble and worthwhile goal. Knowledge for its own sake is like traveling without a destination. It might be enjoyable and fun but devoid a higher purpose.

Enough said. I'll see you in a year unless I have something to say sooner.