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Whose Balls are Bigger?

Dr. Joanne Paul- MBBS (UWI), FRCPCH (UK), FRCP (Edin)

A linchpin is a part used to prevent a wheel from sliding off the axle while riding. It also means the most important part of a complex system. There is a theory called Linchpin theory by John Casti. With complex systems, multiple events are occurring simultaneously. These events may or may not be related but can have an impact on each other in varying degrees. Thus, according to the interconnection, a supposedly insignificant event can have a larger than expected impact.

 

With the linchpin theory, there is an X event, either man made or natural occurrence. These X events are unforeseen, unpredictable, non-repeatable and can act as a linchpin and have a domino effect. You know sometimes one domino collapses and it can cause a range of rows of dominos to collapse and follow suit. If this happens on a global real life scale the X event can rapidly change the political, geographic, or financial landscape and there can be catastrophic consequences. Science functions under the repeatable phenomena and thus it is hard to predict X events. Some supposed examples can be internet failure, food supply shortages, pandemic and even Artificial intelligence ignoring the laws of robotics. The point Casti makes is, we don’t always know how these systems impact each other so if we over rely on our complex systems, we increase the risk of the X events.

 

Seth Godin speaks about the linchpin in a workplace setting where he states the linchpin holds a large part of the operation together. He recommends that to be a linchpin, one should be flexible to work on different projects, introduce thoughts and ideas, be a team player and inspire persons around you. With the workplace linchpin, the goal is to be indispensable. Critics suggest that employers should make sure no employee is indispensable and that there are plan A and plan B systems and even plan C. This recommendation makes sense even with John Casti’s theory. Do not leave complex systems unchecked. Do not rely on complex systems and have yourself vulnerable to the linchpin employee or the X event. Presently in the world everything functions on highly interrelated sub systems that are mediated and maintained but they are still complex systems that are vulnerable because of that inter connectivity

 

At the moment we seem to have another Linchpin situation happening. We just came out of an unforeseen pandemic and now we are at the start of an Invasion and war. Some have argued that the invasion was partially expected since Putin was gearing up for a while and felt threatened by the increasing reach and influence of NATO. There are a few factors though that make the complex situation more unexpected and unpredictable. First there is the continued fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people and their President. Then we have the recent explosion at the Nuclear plant in Ukraine and the plan to take over the other plants.

 

 

Then the response by Europe and USA. It is difficult to gauge when and how they react. Biden is 79 years old. Most 79-year-olds in Trinidad and Tobago are playing with grandchildren, trying to not get constipated and trying to reduce the decline of their cognitive abilities. It is really strange that we allow our main world leaders to generally be over 70 years old and yet if we have a 79-year-old in our home and community, we take care of them and reduce and augment their decision making.

 

Another factor is the short man syndrome midlife crises psyche of Putin at the moment. Some surmise that with Angela Merkel gone and Biden seemingly less cowboy, Putin sees Europe and USA as weaker and thus an opportunity for dominance and aggression. George Bush Junior tells the story of when Putin came to the Whitehouse and met his dog Barney, a Scottish Terrier. Putin ignored the dog. A year later when Bush met him at the Kremlin, he Putin also had a dog, a Russian Hound.  He told Bush, his dog was bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney. Putin not only remembered the dog but organised to have a better one.

 

Most analysts list five endgame scenarios for the Ukraine invasion. Either a short war which ends after a few weeks with Russia having mass destruction and Ukraine surrender. A long war, maybe even more than 10 years with a protracted refugee crisis, displaced persons, and an unstable area. The third scenario is a European war. Putin may invade Moldova and Georgia, which are non-NATO. Or he may invade a NATO country like Lithuania. Or he can perceive sanctions and a no-fly zone over Ukraine as an act of aggression and declare war on the rest of Europe. The other scenario could be a diplomatic solution which seems very unlikely. The last scenario is where Putin is removed and there is regime change in Moscow which is also very unlikely.

 

It is a fact that World War II was an example of the linchpin theory at work where the war was triggered by an unforeseen X event. What if the X event for World War III is just some old men trying to prove whose balls are bigger, stronger, and faster.

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