23 December 2006

Stability and Peace, not the same thing

It is interesting how many folks like to put forth that a stable environment is one at 'peace' or that a peaceful environment is 'stable'. That is a pretty dichotomous view of the world, attempting to show the very highest level of inter-relationship between two fundamental ideas that are related but not equal.

How is this the case?

To examine that needs some idea of what 'stability' is and the sort of 'peace' that can be engendered by it. Now, there are, in actuality, multiple categories of stability each covering a broad conception of what typifies it, so to help bring that home I will try to use ideas borrowed from the physical sciences and then put those into terms of more known forms of systems taken from military, political and social realms so that a better understanding of what each form of stability is can be had. Needless to say the analogies will be imperfect, but are meant to show the basic underpinnings of stability and then to examine the type of 'peace' that can be found, or not, in each.

Absolute Stability

Take a penny on its side on a flat surface attached to the ground. The penny rests against that surface and can fall no further, thus having no potential energy to expend. It cannot shift, save via an outside force or forces. No change is possible save for the slow chemical change to dissolve the penny via oxidation. Remove the atmosphere and place the penny on the Moon in the shade of a crater and it will sit there for a good long time on its lonesome. Absolute stability is typified by a system that cannot change, save via an outside force.

Source: Cats with Hands by Joe Martin

Physical Sciences - The Heat Death of the Universe in 10^(40 to 100) billion years or so is this absolute state of being in which all energy and matter has become so distributed as to have no potential energy left. Quantum fluctuations may bring about a temporary local rise, but that is random and unpredictable. On a personal level, your physical being once you have died may be undergoing decomposition of various sorts, but is stable in that.

Military - Your standard far off garrison from fiction that undergoes training and performs mostly guard duty. While it has activity, those troops are undergoing a period of relative and sustained rest which, in previous eras, made them seen as less than active combat effective. On a more pragmatic side, the Aircraft Graveyard is pretty stable, with old airframes protected as best as possible against the elements, but requiring a long maintenance and servicing to bring them back to life as actual aircraft.

Politics - The dystopian future of 1984 a few years after Winston would see an omnipresent State in which Newspeak had so destroyed the language as to make even creating thoughts contrary to the system impossible. While conflict is cited within the system, once it becomes global, that is expected to disappear as the actual differences between the large scale States and their peoples are reduced to nothing. Humans become units within society, nothing more. A bit more modernized from that is the world of The Prisoner, which is a microcosm of what 1984 would be like.

Peace - In these systems there is the peace that is stable and ongoing and, with the physical Heat Death scenario, there will be *no* conflict of any sort. The military side of things requires outside conflict to bring in change, so it is stable barring that. And in politics, by erasing individuality and removing the ability to have contrary thoughts to the State, the peace of repression is absolute. This is also known as 'The Peace of the Grave'.

Source: Cats with Hands by Joe Martin

Meta Stable Systems

These are typified by systems that have apparent outward stability of the sort of Absolute Stable systems, but are susceptible to change by a minimal outside force. Take a standard 6 sided die on a flat surface, coming to rest with one side on the surface - that is a stable system of the sort of a penny on the table. It takes a lot of force to actually change the state of that system.

Two dice, A and B, sit at rest. Notice the cut taken out of B, however, which has given it a slanted face. For die A to actually turn to another side just pushing it along one face does nothing except slide it along. A vector force to it is necessary to give it rotational motion and change its side. Die B, however, can have force applied in the direction of its cut and very little, at that, to change which side is down on the table. The cut is known as a bias. Such a bias changes the system so that it may have paths of strengths and weaknesses in it due to outside forces.

This biased system has apparent stability but, by its system dynamics, no longer requires a large force along its biased axis to achieve change. That bias also adds a system of additional change vectors so that even a traditional, angled force along a non-biased axis will have unknown results and outcomes. While die A can take force along any of its sides at any position on that side, such is not the case with B, which has multiple placement points on multiple sides that now allow for small amounts of force to change the state of the system.

This system type is typified by the Newtonian Laws of Motion in which an object at rest will tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.

Physical Sciences - The build up of snow during light wind scenarios on mountain sides allows for large and apparently stable drifts along mountain sides to be created. But a sudden jarring can cause inter-crystal slipping to happen and begin the break-up of a snow pack along the direction of the slope. This is called an avalanche. Similar happens during heavy rainfall seasons in areas that have steep slopes along hillsides and mountainsides. The water infiltrates the system and changes the state of the soil to that of a viscous fluid which then flows downhill in a landslide. There is a potential energy bias in these systems which can have a relatively small systemic change that, to their flat surface equivalents, would to very little. Add the slope and the instability is increased. That lovely snow-topped mountainside looks very stable, until a shout brings the snow pack roaring downwards.

Military - The thin defensive line of static warfare is typical of this, as seen during the First World War. While there was some defense in-depth via a second or third trench line, that was useful against pure troop assaults. By 1918 the first armored thrusts were proving to be able to shift across the trench lines and open up an exploitable hole in the defenses. The mechanical nature of the tanks of that era did not lend themselves to sustained assault, however, and the military structure was not prepared to exploit such a breakthrough. Do note that cavalry units, which had generally disappeared from the Front by that point, would have been a natural, fast moving force with which to disrupt interior lines of communication to exploit an opening made by an armored thrust forward, supported by ground troop elements. B. H. Liddel Hart pointed this out during the inter-war years and was the guiding thinker of new armored tactics and strategy. Static defenses, even the well made Maginot Line, would still succumb to a single breakout via armored thrust anywhere along its line. The roll-up of those static lines and defenses, once denied strategic resupply by exploitation to the rear, is catastrophic.

Political - Ruling coalitions made up of nearly equal factions are a typical example of this, especially in 'National Unity Governments', in which parties with starkly different viewpoints on ruling and power come together to guide the Nation on an 'equal basis'. In general these systems are only a temporary fix and are used as cover to allow political entities to re-align and recruit new supporters. What this also does is allow a third, relatively small, political group to point out the similarities between the parties in the 'National Unity Government' and seek to gain new force while the other two parties squabble about internal policies and who gets which cabinet post. That form of 'horse trading' to bring 'Unity' can cause this third, minority, party to suddenly wield enough political clout so as to change its role from that of small 'bit player' to that which is wholly different: Kingmaker. By having a coherent, minoritarian, voting bloc that is stable, it can then start to curry favor with one side or the other and seek to get rewards if it helps one side or the other come to power. When that happens, the instability to one side or the other then happens, while the third side will never come to power on its own it will decide which way the Nation shifts.

Peace - Meta Stable systems are those typified by long periods of quietude and then sudden, drastic change. When one attempts to solidify a 'Long Lasting Peace' in such systems, the result is long-term failure that is often catastrophic, especially in the diplomatic arena. That being said some Nations, such as Italy during the 1970's and 1980's, changed Governments extremely often in absolutely peaceful circumstances as the political changes were not overwhelming ones socially. The 'New Year, New Government' scenario actually created a form of stable flux until the system could find a longer-term realignment.

On the contrary side is an Authoritarian or Totalitarian system losing internal legitimacy and cohesion along one or more axes and suddenly going through a catastrophic change, which may actually come to a revolution that is violent. The Warsaw Pact Nations underwent a more bloodless form of this, which did not see tens of thousands dead, but a recognition of the illegitimacy of the old social order and an attempt to create a new one. The 1917 February Revolution in Russia was metastable and the conditions nudged yet again in the 1917 October Revolution which came to a totalitarian form of stability that lasted some time.

The more worrying form of this is the pre-WWI conditions between the Empires and Nations, which was undermined by minoritarian Nationalism that was harshly repressed. There one spark set the world ablaze.

Thus any attempts at making a long-term, long-lasting peace are ill founded if it is recognized that the underlying system is only Meta Stable and the axes of instability can be defined.

Source: Cats with Hands by Joe Martin

Motion Stability

This sort of system is characterized by a continuity of motion that keeps the system in a stable form so long as the motion continues uninterrupted. A penny rolled on its edge has motion stability, so long as the surface it rolls on is flat. A spinning top has motion stability as its angular momentum keeps it upright. Using a siphon to move liquid up and over an obstacle to a lower level has stability once the flow is started and the original liquid supply lasts. These are non-static systems within a frame of reference that achieve a sameness of purpose given the continued motion of the system itself.

Physical Science - Beyond pennies, tops and siphons, motion stability is one of the Newtonian Laws of Motion in which an object in motion will tend to remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Thus orbiting bodies in space have motion stability in which the pull of gravity is mitigated by the motion of the object. Those things that remain in orbit have a balance of forward motion that off-sets the pull of gravity, so that a path of motion of a small body around a larger one is elliptical in nature as the smaller body also shifts the larger in relative relation to their respective masses and distance involved. Light has one speed, although that varies given which substance it is going through, so the speed of light in a vacuum is constant, while through other materials it is a fraction of that original speed.

Military - A ground-based offensive that has 'forward momentum' has a palpable feel to it in which initial success gets ongoing success so long as the enemy is not given time to rest or regroup. Using Blitzkrieg tactics to utilize an armored force to break through the front lines of an enemy then allows the follow-on forces to exploit that gap to the rear of the front lines. Classically there is usually a strong push laterally by those forces once they break through, but tactical objectives may over-ride that and make such an offensive head directly towards a given target. In this sort of work *anything* that stalls out the forward momentum, be it an enemy counter-attack or a need to stop and refuel, tends to break down the initial harmony of the original attack. For aerial forces, the need to gain aerial superiority via eliminating opposition interceptor and fighter aircraft, and by attacking the air defense systems are crucial. Without doing that, any aerial offensive may succumb to coordinated counter attack using the air defense system both for static SAM launches and Area Anti-Air fire and for moving intercepting aircraft into an area.

Political - There are two readily available examples for motion stability in the political realm. The first is the 'Domino Theory' which proved itself out is S.E. Asia. In that theory, when one State fell to Communism from outside influence, it then allowed infiltration of neighboring States and destabilization of them so as to install Communist or Totalitarian regimes. This was stopped by the sea and by limited geography and ethnic similarities outside of the immediate region and was self-limiting there. That said the view of the USSR was that it was 'on the move' and it pushed heavily on a global scale to disperse its resources in an attempt to build on those successes.

In domestic politics we have the 'Coat-tail Effect' in which one political mode of thought via a political party has either lost touch with the people it represents or 'worn out its welcome and has become corrupt'. Usually this is cited for Presidential election years to see if what the President campaigned on has 'swept the party to power'. The American Public actually seems to prefer divided Government, and so even minor shifts on the Congressional side during a Presidential election are seen as a validation or invalidation of the actual campaign ideas put forth. Many Presidents have won 'landslide' elections, taking nearly the entire Nation, but very few of those have actually brought in a similarly large majority into Congress. This meme is, perhaps, more of an historical footnote relegated to the 19th and early 20th century, when party platforms and campaigns actually had some meaning to them for the United States. For Parliamentary democracies this still holds as an ideal, but even in those Nations the Individual is becoming a more important factor than the Party for elections.

Peace - In systems with Motion Stability, peace is that state which does not perturb the system for fear of changing its state of being. This is the 'go along, get along' concept of not doing much of anything so as to continue the process of forward motion. This is not, necessarily, 'progress' as that concept conflates forward motion with progression to higher and better states of understanding, learning and society. In general classical 'progress' is destabilizing to systems that require stability. Aristocracies tend to have Motion Stability and also tend to keep progress at arms length so as to not 'rock the boat'. That said the actual proportion of the Aristocracy to the population will determine the effectiveness of that. In Europe, with roughly 1% being Aristocratic in the Middle Ages, there was no way to effectively put a damper on 'progress', and that soon brought that system down. In late Medieval Japan the Aristocracy being about 10% of the population, was, in actuality, able to put a stranglehold on progress when it threatened their position of power. When a General said to send him no more Bushido, but do send many more men with guns, the revulsion at that changed caused a wholesale withdrawal of the culture into an inward-looking, motion stable peace. Until the first European vessels with cannon arrived...

Source: Cats with Hands by Joe Martin

Dynamic Stability

This is, perhaps, the one we know best on a day-to-day basis, but have problems defining as it is an ongoing process. Dynamic stability represents three or more interacting processes working in concert so as to allow no single process to dominate. This is done via feedback of the actual state of the system into the system itself so that the various parts of the system can each adjust to that and in reaction to each other. This gets one to a concept of homeostasis of that system in relation to the larger set of dynamics it exists in. One's own body is a constantly adjusting system between needs for oxygen, food, water, sleep, and the processing of waste products on a continual basis. There is dynamic tension within the body that adjusts to daily activity, personal needs and physical requirements of them.

Physical Sciences - This should be a prime area for Newton's Third Law of Motion to come into play, where each action has an equal and opposite reaction. That is not the case with Dynamically Stable systems, however, as the system itself may seek change and directionality of change which has minimal reaction to it. What is seen is the motion of planetary bodies when the number of them is greater than 2. What is arrived at is an interplay between the gravitational forces of each body within the system, the motion of each body due to momentum, and the input of energy from the Sun and the transfer of energy via gravity within the solar system. Thus, while the planets have highly regular paths that follow Newton and Kepler's Laws for a large percent of their motion, there is the highly inter-related forces that will perturb the system on a continual basis so that a relative, internal stability is reached. Einsteinian frame-dragging and the orbit of Mercury are a larger set of Laws which contains the Laws of Motion.

The sphere of knowledge known as science is one that seeks dynamic stability so as to explain what is observed in the world and give it a framework for which predictions and future observations can be made. Science does need to adjust to new findings and data, many of which cause a patchwork of knowledge to be put forth until a new, over-riding superset can be derived which contains the subset of previous knowledge. That is a dynamically stable system over time, which adjusts to observations, although it witnesses points of Meta Stability, when older theories no longer cover new data, until a thorough re-adjustment of the entire realm can be achieved.

Military - Operating any ship, aircraft or ground vehicle is an effort in Dynamic Stability. The Laws of War between Nation States are a larger set that define what is and is not allowable in warfare for those States signing up to same. It can only be enforced as well as each State is willing to enforce it, however, which is in a pretty lax method for the majority of the Nations on Earth.

Within actual operations comes the concept of 'Combined Arms' in which an array of forces that interlock in capabilities can project those capabilities and self-cover for each other. Blitzkrieg warfare is, itself, a Combined Arms assault that has Dynamic Stability to it, in that Tanks assault hard points or other armored units, they are protected by ground troops and Close Air Support air capacity and can have some additional distance capability added by long range artillery. Ground troops use mobility and Close Assault tactics to counter enemy resistance, remove anti-tank groups armed with such weapons and similarly individual SAM platforms, and perform a close-in inspection role for ground covered by the assault. Air units perform long range surveillance, reconnaissance, bombing and Close Air Support after doing the necessary work to remove the defensive air assets (ground and air) to achieve air superiority. Additionally, specialized Engineering units and Snipers add specialized building, demolition and precision fire that augment a Blitzkrieg style assault. The strengths of each unit is used to cover the weaknesses of the others so as to give an interlocking whole to the force structure. A Blitzkrieg assault is constantly changing the line-up of unit types and capabilities to deal with newly found threats and enemy surprises. It is a highly Dynamic environment that attempts to give a Stable capability for performing the overall Theater and Strategic missions set to those forces. It is adaptation to environments and counter-attacks that make a Blitzkrieg dynamically stable, while its directivity is that of motion stability in breakthrough and exploitation. Forward progress in it is only maintained so long as the interlocking components continue to adapt, work well and are supplied: when the interlocking structure is broken down, then motion stability still exists but it can be countered via such things as defense in depth or air interdiction of resupplies.

Politics - Any Nation that has multiple, divided internal governments is one that is attempting to achieve Dynamic Stability. In the US Constitutional system, this is an interlocking set of checks and balances that attempt to make the entire system stable via the interplay of each of the subsets of the entire system. While the Federal side is the most well known, with the interplay between Legislative, Executive and Judicial, the entire Constitutional system has additional checks and balances handed to the States and the People. The States, by having Guarantee of Due Process and Application of the Laws, can hold the entire Federal System accountable when it does NOT perform its functions with regards to any single State. Further, the State, itself, has the right to call upon individuals for Protection of the State whenever the Federal System cannot or will not respond to problems faced by that State. This is further backed by the Right to Bear Arms to the People, so that no State may be infringed upon, go undefended or have no recourse during times of invasion or Danger. The People, via their States, may demand recall of Representation or appoint new Representation when those elected have been seen to abrogate their agreement to protect the Rights of the States and the People as a whole. And the People have the right, via their States, to Amend the Constitution or call a Convention to draw up a New Constitution, which is the final Right of Negation upon the Federal Government.

This interlocking set of forces and stresses and interests each pull at the others and move the overall Federal System of Autonomous States within the Union into an agreed upon framework for being and continuing to be a Nation. Stresses and weaknesses, such as top-down power plays, can be thwarted via multiple pathways, each of which are legitimate to limit the amount and type of power any Government the People create may have. Further, the requirement for wide-spread approval and understanding of what having such a system means to the entirety of the Nation serves as a safeguard against a bottom-up dissolution into chaos.

Peace - In a multivariate system of Nations, peace is achieved through the interplay of each of those Nations, its needs, outlooks and Governments. This interplay is known as 'Foreign Affairs' and how a Nation looks upon the world is known as 'Foreign Policy'. For much of the Cold War, designers of Foreign Policy attempted to arrange Foreign Affairs so as to create a Dynamically Stable environment, so that no technical advance by either of the Superpowers would destabilize the overall framework of the system. While this was the goal they, instead, achieved a Motion Stable System for such interplays and did not recognize the inherent Meta Stability of the Communist System. Changes in technology, manufacturing and Western production efficiencies soon became a force in and of itself beyond the ability of any Foreign Affairs Expert to cope with. The direct ability of individuals to communicate freely has spelled a doomsday for those seeking Motion Stability and not seeking to let anything change. The view of economic stability to achieve 'peace' became, instead, a statically stable paradigm that could not cope with changing economics due to technology at the high end and the shift of personal viewpoints reflected in Nation States at the low end.

Technology, driven by scientific understanding and applied by the Dynamically Stable economy of the West, has driven much of the world into an unbalanced state of affairs. There are no longer any Absolute Stability systems left in the world of Foreign Affairs. Authoritarian regimes are now ALL undergoing a process of being in Meta Stable systems and are seeing a freeing of individual communication that drives far beyond anything that can be done by those regimes to stop it. Western regimes that achieved Motion Stability through Socializing their economies to some extent, are now facing the fact that those economies are inefficient, reduce citizen input and support of those Nations and are, generally, running out of gas and are being slowed by friction. An influx of foreigners that are not assimilating into the host cultures is further driving these systems to a form of Meta Stability.

The entirety of the Middle East and Africa is in a Meta Stable position between Authoritarian regimes seeing loss of power via individualism and via attacks from outside authoritarian conceptions of the world that do *not* include local dictators. A very few Motion Stable regimes are depending upon a few factors to keep them from running out of all power and becoming a Meta Stable system. Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are prime cases for this, each of which is seeing a slow liquidation of traditional power structures in the face of Technology and Radical Islam. Each of those threatens instability and chaos internal to such regimes and that then spreading throughout the region with only the very poorest or places escaping it.

Source: Cats with Hands by Joe Martin

Now, with all of that said some of my past work should be a bit more clear!

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