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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice?

A red teamer or analyst should always consider complex problems from alternative perspectives. One alternative perspective on the current economic crisis is that advocated by the free market economists of the Austrian school. Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Hayek is one of the tradition’s better known thought leaders; Ludwig von Mises is another.
      According to students of the Austrian tradition, the crisis is not an upshot of deregulation but a product of something much deeper: an unsound monetary policy based on fiat money and cheap credit. See, for example, “Confidence Is Leaving the Fiat Money System” or “Financial Crisis and Recession.”
      If this perspective is correct, governments today find themselves in “a blind alley.” They can choose to pursue stronger variations of their standard monetary policies or they can take the hit now and let the markets find a new equilibrium. To date, governments have largely adopted the first approach, which–incidentally–involves extending more credit.
      So, what does this have to do with red teaming? If the root cause of our current economic troubles is simply some combination of greed and deregulation, then our governments’ strategies should eventually begin to work. If, on the other hand, the Austrian school’s explanation is closer to the root cause, current strategies will actually compound the problem and the story will unfold much like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the classic tale of misguided action.
      In practice, most red teamers will not be asked to decide whether the mainstream explanation or the Austrian explanation (or some other explanation) is correct. That said, a good red teamer will consider how alternative strategies might play out within the context of a mainstream future and an Austrian future. Strategies that play extremely well in one future but fail miserably in the other should be subjected to greater scrutiny and review. Strategies that appear robust in both futures are probably more viable, all other things being equal.
      Finally, if students of the Austrian school are indeed correct, we are likely to see a reshaping of the global security landscape equal or greater in scale and scope to the changes that attended the end of the Cold War. Our defense and security allocations of the past seven years will appear in hindsight as a tremendous financial conceit and perhaps even as a disastrous strategic conceit, depending on our adversaries’ next moves. At the very least, we will be forced to tighten our belts, our expectations, and our strategies.

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