Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Return of Total War...

...or How Rumsfeld's Strategic Misconception may be of No Comfort to Liberals.

A series of columns in the past few days illuminates the sea change that has taken place regarding the ethical justifications of Democracies waging war. As a starting point, let's look at John Podhoretz's recent column which questions whether liberal democracies have evolved into entities incapable of warfare,

demonstrated by the Left's insistence that American and Israeli military actions marked by an extraordinary concern for preventing civilian casualties are in fact unacceptably brutal? And is also apparent in the Right's claim that a war against a country has nothing to do with the people but only with that country's leaders?

Can any war be won when this is the nature of the discussion in the countries fighting the war? Can any war be won when one of the combatants voluntarily limits itself in this manner?


As someone with a background mostly in biomedical pursuits, I was immediately struck by the use of the word "evolved" by Podhoretz. Disdaining the term "Islamofascist", I have for some time been using Mutant Islam as an umbrella term for the virulent form of Islamism with which we are currently at war. As noted by such luminaries as Bernard Lewis, Wahhabism/Qutbism/ has the same relationship to Islam the Ku Klux Klan and other "christian" neo-nazi movements have to Christendom. Much like in a biological system, in intellectual evolution a meme (or "thought gene") can arise spontaneously, and achieves influence according to whether it confers increased survival abilities to its possessors.

So the type of people who can't resist putting "Darwin" medallions of fish with feet on their cars, in parody of the christian Ichthys, likely believe they represent a "more evolved" or enlightened conception of human rights by advocating the minimization of civilian casualties during warfare. The morally obtuse left provides a reductio ad absurdum to this philosophy by representing the argument out to an extreme of pacifism.

The problem is, this kind of thinking is a mutation, too. Let's call it Mutant Humanitarianism. And a mutation is not necessarily "more evolved" until it demonstrates its utility in conferring survival advantage. Likewise, the utility of some "more evolved" phenotypes are utterly useless in certain biological niches; for example, an opposable thumb is unlikely to enable a horseshoe crab to better fit into its biological niche, nor to enhance its abilities to procreate and thus propagate its genes.

So if Donald Rumsfeld re-orients the warmaking capacity of our armed forces to fight insurgent wars with precision-guided munitions and light infantry forces rather than the materiel and manpower required for large unit warfare in Europe, he does so based on anticipated needs strongly colored by Mutant Humanitarian principles. And if these forces and this strategic doctrine begin to fail in the real-life laboratory of warfare, this should force a reconsideration of the doctrine, particularly if the opposing force prevails by adhering to savage behavior basically unchanged since the Turks threatened Vienna.

"War is not the Answer" chant the greying Hippies and their e-tard Raver progeny, ignoring how War solved a bunch of problems for their totems Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro. I'm afraid the rejoinder is "Mutant Humanitarian War is not the Answer; the Only Thing that Seems to Work is Total War."

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