The Different Game and the path to Imperceptible Victory
Exit and disruption in Eastern Europe
Defeat is not always evident to the defeated.
We’ve discussed some strange characteristics of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and more will come regarding that issue in the future.
A lot of analysis available in Western media, even that which is done independently and in good faith, seems to reach the conclusion that the invasion is not achieving its objectives. The evidence for this is the employment of outdated tactics and material by the Russian army, the fierce resistance put up by Ukraine, the alleged solidarity of the EU and the US with the Ukrainians, etc.
All of these inconveniences for the Russians could be calculated and foreseen, especially in what is supposedly a "war of choice". And thus, the weirdness of it all: the conscripts who are sent to war unprepared and clueless, the awful timing, the lack of material preparation, and the oblivious tactics.
Evidently, it is true that the Russian army has not succeeded, so far, in taking over the territory of its neighbor, nor getting a positive answer to its diplomatic demands. It seems the objective of controlling the Ukraine has not been accomplished yet. We assumed Russia was conducting a Blitzkrieg operation to install a friendly regime there.
But, perhaps, this was a wrong assumption. Maybe a military takeover of Ukraine was not the true objective, but just a stated objective. Or not even a stated objective, for that matther; the Russians never said this was what they were doing.
When the Greeks lay siege to Troy, their wrath and power were staked against the defendants’. When playing the same game of bronze shield and ashen spear, the two sides came to a stalemate. Only the use of a trick, Odysseus’ horse, won the day for the Greeks. Thus, to Hector’s courage the Greeks answered with a magnificent, poisoned gift; and on their night of victory and celebration, the Trojans were slaughtered and their city was sacked. Odysseus won because he played a different game that his opponents never understood.
Some people argue that the Space Race was a ploy to ruin the Soviet economy by provoking it into a crippling spiral of spending. The theory sustains that most of the advances the Americans made in space technology were faked or heavily exaggerated, in an effort to have the Russians try to imitate them and suffer the economic costs of it. Thus, the Soviets celebrated every satellite and every cosmonaut they sent into the Great Beyond, believing they had scored a point. Meanwhile, a cynical NATO would laugh at the Reds’ futile pursuit, contemplating every major disbursement by the USSR as another successful hit to its economic waterline.
Whether this theory is true or false is not important: disruption and unrelenting rebellion against the playbook are the real motor of Victory. And History is made of winning.
This logic is not exclusive to warfare and can be applied to all kinds of confrontation. For example, the widespread adoption of Bitcoin by regular people may be considered by some anti-government anarchists as a victory but, what if Bitcoin had been, since its inception, a tool for establishing a global currency, the first stone in a road to global governance? This is just a speculation, and not an especially wild one.
A defeat unnoticed by the vanquished, at the hands of an invisible enemy: Imperceptible Victory. An interesting application of the Exit principle, if there ever was one. The only way to win is by exiting the opponent's conception of war. Being perpetually disruptive. Perpetually transcending the game.
The first question here is who is playing the Different Game in Europe; who is the player that, by definition, all the other players do not understand. The second question is, of course, what is this Different Game about.
When the computer beats you at chess, the best way to defeat it is to simply pull the plug. It won’t even know what hit him.