The Pink Flamingo Scenario
A Pink Flamingo describes a predictable event, or series of events, ignored through the bias of leadership, trapped in their institutional thinking.
It differs from Black Swan events, which generally come out of nowhere and are statistically implausible.
Pink Flamingos exist in a gray area where particular institutions, i.e., political, military, or economic entities, ignore intelligence, conflicting data, and ideas that directly confront established beliefs, tenets, and capabilities of their respective organization(s).
Why is this important? Pink Flamingos happen all the time. Is a bolt out of the blue unpredictable? Stand under a tree five miles from a thunderstorm and tempt fate. You may get away with such a gamble, but an actual risk of getting hit by lightning is greater if you do.
COVID-19 was another example. The mission of USARIID (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases) is:
To provide leading edge medical capabilities to deter and defend against current and emerging biological threat agents.
Together with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these agencies were the watchdogs that supposedly could have, should have been on top of COVID months before it arrived at our shores.
Almost all our warning systems failed despite spending billions of dollars and having the best people and decades to prepare. The story of how this happened remains a carefully guarded secret.
This is not just a story about COVID, though. It is a wake-up call that institutional and bureaucratic inertia leaves us vulnerable to threats that should keep us up at night. Understanding that is vital because it is one of the reasons why we are failing as a country.
Let's consider institutional bias. All kinds of public and private institutions have a huge stake in how they and their place in the palace court are perceived. Politicians, generals, CEOs, NGOs, and academics all think they have the best worldview everyone else should adopt. Obviously, they can't all be right, but each continues to perpetuate their convictions. Each has subdivisions that develop their own or counter versions of each institution's narrative.
The narratives each institution espouses are extremely important to understand because they are the essence of each institution's raison d'être and their ticket/expectation for an influential seat at the table. Yet, history too often reveals that, more often than not, institutions collectively wind up on the wrong side of history.
Are you a sports fan? Sports fans like watching athletes compete. However, legions of people live for the statistics and calculating probabilities on every aspect of sports. For many, it's an end to itself. Some do it out of intellectual curiosity, while others have a decidedly profit-making intent. Another name for this is analysis.
Fact-based analysis leads us to understand that most narratives we hear are false or misleading; it's imperative to take a longer view of current events, overlay recent actions against historical cycles that tend to repeat themselves and apply a simple logic test. Almost everything you hear that does not make sense from a historical perspective is likely false or intentionally misleading. If one operates on a flawed premise, the likelihood is that subsequent actions will be wrong and can make any situation worse than it would otherwise be. Unfortunately, this is the standard operating procedure of many of our vaunted institutions.
The question that should be on everyone's mind is what potential Pink Flamingos are being ignored or underplayed. Here's a list of potential America-enders we think institutional bias masks truly dreadful possibilities that are not nearly as impossible to believe as we may think:
- EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) attack. We live in a world with actors who want to destroy us. Military experts acknowledge that an EMP attack against the U.S. would see over half of us dead, likely more, within a year; today, we are nearly defenseless.
- Biological warfare. Many, including people who likely know the truth, believe COVID-19 was a trial balloon that succeeded spectacularly. It proved many things, including the rate of spread, psychological factors, and the inability of the government to react appropriately to the threat. Who's to say that the next time, the pathogen might not be much more virulent?
- Economic warfare. China steals more than $500 billion of our industrial and military technology annually! From the theft of nuclear bomb plans and our latest aircraft designs to Dow Chemical's proprietary formulas, China steals everything, bolted down or not. Too many know but discount how these continued thefts undermine us economically. Even worse, we may lose the next war on this issue alone.
- Cyber warfare. While generally acknowledged and at least partially understood, the reality is that we are vulnerable in ways known and unknown. The lack of a cohesive and effective central clearing house to proactively combat committed enemies has left a hodgepodge of companies that make up the frontline of cyber defense for both government and corporations. We won't be fast enough to react to an all-out simultaneous attack on our energy grids, financial markets, and defense systems.
- Energy. The Biden administration has been proactively destroying our energy independence since his inauguration. No enemy could have done a better job. Witness our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, reduced to its lowest level since 1985. Energy must be our first concern. A nation without adequate energy is subject to defeat.
- The Southern border. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of military-age young Chinese males and other enemy nations are assaulting our borders. In any future conflict, some of these men may be counted on to engage in sabotage or other subversions against us right here in our homeland. They, in addition to millions of other aliens, are swarming our borders, with their entries engineered by progressives in Washington.
- Fractured and feckless American policies and politics invite our adversaries to do their worst. The perception around the world is that the geopolitical center of gravity is up for grabs, with the U.S. openly stating that it is tired of being the leader of the free world, willingly ceding its position of dominance and respect.
The seven items above represent major weaknesses within our country that nation and non-nation state actors exploit. The likelihood of an enemy engaging in asymmetric warfare with us is great and should be anticipated.
An observation that I've found to be true is that the larger the organization, the more difficult the span of control. Indeed, our largest companies and the national government suffer from huge managerial issues, infighting, turf wars, inefficiencies, duplication of services, and major blind spots. 9-11 taught us how dangerous not minding the store can be. We have 17 intelligence agencies alone, all insular and competitive. Leadership from the top is frequently all about politics. I sincerely hope we get our act together before someone figures out how to destroy us.
God Bless America.
Allan J. Feifer is a patriot, author, businessman, thinker, and strategist. Read more about Allan, his background, and his ideas to create a better tomorrow at www.1plus1equals2.com.
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