Mar

28

 Bad stories are always the ones that get told. They have the virtue of pretending that events have "lessons" and that history is a sequence of binary choices, each of which determines what happens next.

To this day almost every book about WW II in the Pacific will identify the Battle of Midway as "the turning point" in the struggle between the United States and Japan. The literature about the Civil War does the same thing about Gettysburg. In both cases the reason is simple: you can pick out a single dramatic moment in each battle - Pickett's Charge, the U.S. dive bombers attack - and make it the hinge for all subsequent events.

The Confederacy still had a chance to win the Civil War a year after Gettysburg; but for events that were not under the control of Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, Lee and Davis' goal of a secession settlement through the political defeat of Abraham Lincoln and his Union Party would probably have been achieved. Lee saw Gettysburg as a defeat but hardly as a fatal catastrophe. It had reduced the Union Army in the East to literal impotence; for the rest of 1863 and much of the spring of 1864 the Army of the Potomac literally sat in its field tents and waited.

The Japanese setback at Midway was hardly, in their eyes, the beginning of the end. If the plan to capture Hawaii was now deferred, it was not abandoned. It took the naval Battle of Guadalcanal, which came over 5 months later, for the Japanese Navy to give up its belief that its ships and sailors controlled the Pacific Ocean.

The only reason to study events in detail is to realize, yet again, that the "what happens" is best understood through the data. The numbers in the supply chain are the story that comes closest to the truth; and their fluctuations, like those in the market, are determined by present actions, not past "forces".


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1 Comment so far

  1. Barman on March 30, 2017 9:06 am

    As Johnny said: “Bad news travels like wildfire.”

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