Warfighting and Bitcoin


Thread(s) by lndevs

The vast majority of people have 0 understanding of violence and the military. There’s not much reason to when you live in a mostly safe society. This is where the sheepdog meme comes from, where military and cops see ourselves as knowing violence so others don’t have to. 

However, when we’re talking about building a civilization on a new sound monetary standard like we are with Bitcoin, it becomes necessary to reacquaint ourselves with the nature of war and violence if only as a defensive measure in the event it is used against us. The single best resource on this is a book called “Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1: Warfighting” from which I will quote liberally in this thread as a primer for understanding warfare. 

I also think a better understanding of maneuver warfare will give us deeper appreciation of the brilliance of Bitcoin’s security model as what Jason Lowery describes as “nuclear grade military technology”.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the meat of warfighting:

First we define our terms. “A common view of war among Marines is a necessary base for the development of a cohesive doctrine because our approach to the conduct of war derives from our understanding of the nature of war.” 

What is the NATURE of war? Given that, what is our THEORY of war? And finally, how do we apply that theory through a STYLE of war? 


“The essence of war is a violent struggle between two hostile, independent, and irreconcilable wills, each trying to impose itself on the other… War is thus a process of continuous mutual adaptation, of give and take, move and countermove.” 

You claim something, I claim that same thing, and we have no mutually agreed upon mechanism to adjudicate those claims. “The object in war is to impose our will (our claim) on our enemy.”

I think this is where Bitcoiners get lost. We don’t want to impose our will on anybody, we want to live in voluntary societies. The idea of making people do things through force is repugnant, and we view people who do want to do that as immoral commies. 

BUT YOU DONT GET TO DECIDE THAT, BECAUSE THE ENEMY ALWAYS GETS A VOTE. I may not want to impose my will on anyone, but when someone wants to hurt or take from me (which doesn’t necessitate offensive violence, more on that later) I will have to impose my will that he not do that. 


Given the nature of war as a contest between wills, the libertarian tack is to develop a theory of war between aggressors (offensive actors imposing their will) and victims of violence ( whose rights are being violated). 

This theory of war as between offense and defense is imprecise, and opens you up to exploitation by maneuverists with a more accurate theory of war as interplay between INITIATIVE AND RESPONSE. 


“At least one party to a conflict must take the initiative for without the desire to impose upon the other, there would be no conflict.”

It is through the initiative that we seek to impose our will on the enemy. 


“The second party to a conflict must respond for without the desire to resist, there again would be no conflict. If we cannot take the initiative and the enemy does, we are compelled to respond in order to counteract the enemy’s attempts.” 

“But Kody, that just sounds like initiative is offense and response is defense?” NO. This is the fundamental misunderstanding. 

“The relative advantages and disadvantages of offense and defense are situationally dependent. Because we typically think of the defense as waiting for the enemy to strike, we often associate the defense with response rather than initiative.” 

To illustrate: the classic libertarian theory of violence is that your right to swing your fist stops when it hits my face. A maneuverist will surround your face with fists and wait for you to move, then by your own logic say you attacked him by hitting his fist with your face. 

This 0/D understanding of war fails with @JasonPLowery ‘s go-to case: if China puts nukes in orbit around the moon claiming it’s defense, what do you do? What I do is understand that the distinction between O/D is inadequate. They’ve taken the initiative and forced me to respond. 

Now given that definition and understanding of war’s nature and theory, I’m going to make the case that Bitcoin’s security model is the ultimate defensive technology.

Not from the O/D distinction, but from the initiative/response distinction. 

There’s a 7 step process for developing a defense which we don’t have to get into, the relevant steps are that I first red team the enemy’s most likely coarse of action and design my defense to take and seize the initiative from the enemy when he attacks. 

I cannot protect myself from all sides, splitting my forces evenly across all possible attack surfaces. I therefore assess the enemy’s strengths/weaknesses/psychology, and design a defense that forces him to attack me where I am strongest & exposes gaps where he is weakest. 

Bitcoin’s security design tradeoffs are a beautiful example of a “defense in depth”. It forces you to attack it at known points where it is strongest, and through the process of attacking it incentivizes the attacker to defect and act to support the network instead. 

I submit that Bitcoin’s PoW is an active defense measure that constantly seizes and maintains the initiative from potential attackers. It’s defense is designed to minimize gaps (unknown & unknowable attack vectors) & funnel attackers into its engagement area: the chain tip. 

Bitcoin’s design decisions are such that you have to attack it where it is strongest, where it is constantly updating its defensive posture, and where to attack it you must in the process accumulate incentive to defend it yourself.


Before going deeper into Bitcoin as a defensive technology, I’m going to introduce the relevant STYLE of warfare called Maneuver, as opposed to Attrition, which I believe bitcoin to be using to maximize its relative advantage over fiat

The misunderstanding I went through previously, that of understanding warfare as between offense and defense, leads one to an inferior and counterproductive style of warfare called ATTRITION. 

“the attritionist tends to gauge progress in quantitative terms: body counts, battle damage assessments, terrain captured.” This tends to lead toward simplified numbers, centralized control, and inward focus on accumulating combat power.

Success in this style depends on “an overall superiority in attritional capacity. The greatest necessity for success is numerical and material superiority.”

“Nations that perceived they were numerically & technologically superior have adopted war by attrition.”

A classic and incredibly stupid rejoinder from someone who views warfare in this way is “How is your personal firearm or your Bitcoin going to protect you against the U.S. Military, THEY HAVE NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUKES!!!!!!”

(more on this in a bit)

Our theory of warfare as the interplay of initiative & response (NOT O/D) leads us to adopt a different style of warfare, known in the business as MANEUVER. To paraphrase Michael Saylor: warfighting is about vectors, not scalars, and we need systems level math to fight effectively.

Warfare by maneuver “stems from a desire to circumvent a problem and attack it from a position of relative advantage rather than meet it straight on.” 

It doesn’t matter to the maneuverist that he is outnumbered in aggregate. I’m NOT going to fight on your terms, I’m going to maneuver in order to selectively apply my greatest strengths against your greatest weakness, and systematically erode your will to fight.

“Success depends not so much on the efficient performance of procedures and techniques, but on understanding the specific characteristics of the enemy system.” Now what do we know about the enemy system? Read Saifedean’s The Fiat Standard, but some relevant points:

The dollar is backed by the most powerful military in human history, to attempt to impose an alternate control structure against it is not only stupid, it’s suicide. The Federal Reserve system has spent a hundred years preparing for and reinforcing against a direct attack.

IF THE ENEMY HAS BEEN SETTING UP HIS DEFENSE FOR 100 YEARS, DO NOT ENTER HIS ENGAGEMENT AREA. Instead, force him to jump out of his fighting hole and come attack YOUR defense position, on terms YOU define, where YOU have the relative advantage.

This is Bitcoin’s maneuver, and why I believe it is the solution to fiat money printing. In order to attack the system, fiat has to pick up from its entrenched fighting positions, run across open terrain, and fight it in a manner it is intentionally optimized to defend.

Hayek wrote“I don’t believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government, that is, we can’t take it violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can’t stop.”

THAT’S WHAT BITCOIN IS, IT IS THE ULTIMATE MANEUVER. The system CANNOT attack it on its own terms, it has to fight it on bitcoin’s terms! And what are those terms?

1. You have to acquire milllions of SHA256 ASIC Miners.

This is bitcoin’s engagement area. It makes enormous tradeoffs to minimize its attack surfaces, and force you to try to attrit it at the chain tip through acquiring hashrate and a fat stack of BTC.

ASICS are a FEATURE, NOT a BUG in this security model. By forcing the attacker to acquire millions of miners which HAVE NO OTHER USE besides bitcoin mining, we coopt them into supporting the network.

In the time they take to accumulate ASICs, their opportunity cost is NOT being paid to honestly mine. Every second of every day they plan to attack, they are presented with a profitable exit opportunity: just become a miner yourself, here’s a fat stack.

If they elect NOT to become a miner themselves, they are simultaneously preparing to turn their billions of dollars of ASICs into paperweights. You need to spend billions to acquire them, then if you’re successful, you end up with nothing and billions of lbs of junk.

In the SAME way that my ability to personally take my bitcoin to the grave if you shoot me in the head incentivizes you to negotiate with me instead of kill me, the necessity of acquiring ASICs yourself as an attacker incentivizes you to negotiate with Bitcoin the system.

2. Security Tradeoffs: Selecting your Engagement Area

When building a defense, you MUST select how to concentrate your forces. it is NOT possible to protect effectively from all sides. I shape this engagement area to draw the enemy into attacking me where I am strongest.

The greatest threats to a defense are unknown and unknowable attack vectors. ALWAYS better the devil you know, because when I am attacked in a way I didn’t anticipate I have inherently lost the initiative. 

Bitcoin’s PoW model funnels its attackers into having to attack it at the chain tip. The PoW creates an objectively measurable, simplified defensive model, which is observable from all parties. 

The fact that even people who don’t know anything about bitcoin at all can tell me about the one and only way to attack it, a 51% attack, is yet another FEATURE not a BUG. I can PLAN to defend this, in fact I can intentionally funnel you into attacking me there!

With PoS (Proof of Stake) protocols (especially ETH), the problem is that the additional base layer complexities introduce exponentially more attack vectors, literally new ones are found every couple weeks (check out @MartyBent ‘s Eth 2.0 updates for context).

I’m starting to go on a tangent here so gonna call it a day, but hopefully some people find this way of thinking interesting and this thread useful in understanding why a bunch of military guys like Jason Lowery can see Bitcoin as fascinating from a military context.


Some additional context to my threads: why my emphasis on knowing the attack vector? If everyone knows how to kill you, doesn’t that put you at a greater risk? 

The point is that it is ALWAYS possible to attack and destroy an enemy system. ALWAYS. Anyone saying their system can’t be killed even in theory is wrong. And when we as Bitcoiners say Bitcoin can’t be killed, that’s not what we’re saying. 

Bitcoin is optimized for survivability against attack. It optimizes for that survivability by making tradeoffs (defining its engagement area) in a manner which minimizes its unknown and unknowable attack vectors and funnels its attackers against a KNOWN AND DEFINED surface. 

There’s no maneuvering around Bitcoin, it’s got the one attack surface: hashrate and a fat stack. You can be covered by fires or covered by terrain. Bitcoin’s tradeoffs are the terrain, funnelling attackers into its killzone, its hashrate is the intersecting elevated MGs. 

The most effective way to attack an enemy system is to achieve surprise. Surprise isn’t what I do, it’s the chaotic activity my enemy engages in in RESPONSE to what I do. Surprise is what lets me retake the initiative. It creates opportunities for me to close with and kill.

Everybody who’s ever attacked an entrenched defense knows that your only chance at winning is of you can hit a flank or the rear. If you go where they want you to go, they win. 

Bitcoin’s design tradeoffs are like giant impenetrable mountains protecting its flanks and rear. If you want to attack it, you have to run through its engagement area to do it. And in the process of doing so, you have at every moment the open invitation to defect to Bitcoin. 

And this is the final thing I want to expand on. Returning to our understanding of the nature of war: conflict is always and forever a contest between 2 irreconcilable wills. But those wills are not giant monolithic entities. They are amalgamations of human beings. 

It’s not just 1 guy accumulating 51% of the hash in an attack. It’s tens, hundreds, thousands, millions of people, each of whom is offered by Bitcoin the ability to defect to honest hashing to protect the wealth they accumulate on the process of attacking the network.

The thing that destroys the enemy system is when you can achieve surprise, breaking their coordination and forcing them to respond to a circumstance where you have complete information and they are trying to figure shit out on the fly. 

To summarize: everything has attack vectors, the trick for good defense is forcing the enemy to attack you in a manner where you can maximize your relative advantage. Bad defense is trying to defend from everything, because that’s not possible, all you’re doing is creating gaps. 

Bitcoin’s security is in it’s simplicity, in its design decisions to accept and optimize for security at a specific attack vector. By designing to be attacked there, it closes the gaps of being attacked elsewhere in an unsuspected way. 

We would love to hear your thoughts on this