Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Predicting the future of a civilization

"It never pays a prophet to be too specific" - Robert A. Heinlein

First of all, for those of you who are interested in the issues raised in the previous post, and a lot of others previously, I want to draw your attention to a listserv, Fight for Liberty! run by a friend of mine.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fightforliberty/

Description: Fight for Liberty! is a place where libertarian supporters of the War on Terror can share info, discuss aspects of the War on Terror and how best to support it. We generally support the U.S.-led efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but not U.S. imperialism or the unnecessary reduction of civil liberties in the name of fighting the War on Terror.

Criticism is welcome, so long as it is constructive, but this is not a place for debates between supporters and opponents of the War on Terror.


Secondly, I'd like to draw your attention to this chilling little short story by SF author Dan Simmons, available online here:

http://www.dansimmons.com/news/message/2006_04.htm

I'd like to get some discussion going about this. I might also recommend that you hop over to NRO Online to the Uncommon Knowledge video archives to have a look at the series of interviews with Bruce Thornton, author of 'The Decline and Fall of Europe.' here:

http://tv.nationalreview.com/uncommonknowledge/archives/?q=MjAwODAz

They've also got a series of interviews with Thomas Sowell, who I've written about here:

http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2007/04/review-conflict-of-visions-by-thomas.html

And Victor Davis Hanson, who I wrote about here:

http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2007/08/victor-davis-hanson-historian-of-war.html

Posting here has been a bit slow these days. My apologies, when you read and write for a living it leaves you precious little time to read and write!

In the near future I'm going to explore some ideas about courage, cowardice, demography and why the third is related to the first two.

In these, I'm going to say some pretty awful things about specific people (names redacted of course) some of whom I generally like very much, and about a certain continent, the birthplace of my civilization.

Why?

Well among other things, because the suspicion has been growing in me that the previously unthinkable may be in our future. Another generation of Americans, maybe the next one, my children's, will be fighting in a European war.

What kind? Dunno.

Covert black ops? Urban guerilla? Conventional battlefield? Nuclear (God help us all)? I don't know. (Though if I had to guess, I'd say the second. Like Baghdad except in the streets of London and Paris. Joy forever unconfined.)

"You're mad, you're insane, you're a monster!" I think I hear.

Perhaps. Or perhaps I'll wind up as all three. None of which necessarily makes me wrong.

And believe me, I desperately want to be wrong.

Now please try and maintain this distinction in your mind. As in the present phase of the "War on Terror" (and see that Dan Simmons story for an elegant explanation of why that's an incredibly stupid term) it is NOT a question of being "pro-war."

Pro-war? Nobody but a Nietzchean lunatic is "for" war. My point is not that war is somehow desirable, but that it is not within our power to avoid it.

Pleasant dreams.

6 Comments:

  • At 12:07 PM, Blogger Joseph Sixpack said…

    The Simmons piece was a good read, though I do not share his apparent concerns.

    I found it interesting that the traveler used the term "Long War". That is actually a term also used by those who view this as a global insurgency. The reason that many refer to the Long War as a global insurgency is that an insurgency is a struggle for control of a population. It rests on the assumption (which I believe to be true) that militant radical Islam is not mainstream Islam; that it is a fringe element. The militant radical Islamic movement is a fringe element seeking to obtain control of the Islamic world. That is a necessary intermediate goal toward a final goal of asserting dominance over the rest of civilization. Thankfully, both the intermediate goal and final goal are fanciful. There will surely be mayhem and possibly more large terrorist attacks on our own soil, but the creation of a Caliphate is so hopeless as to be considered impossible, practically speaking. The closest that any Islamic nation has come to creating such an entity in modern times is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is trying to simply assert control over it's piece of the region. Even if it succeeds in achieving hegemony, which is unlikely, the Sunni world will oppose it.

    The narrator is implied to have made a categorical error, misstating the problem in such a way to make it unsolvable. However, the author portrayed the problem in such a way that the problem will materialize if we act upon his assumptions. If a global insurgency is being waged, which I believe to be the case, then we should be waging a counterinsurgency, which succeeds by obtaining the cooperation of the populations of the Islamic world while hunting down the fringe elements of the insurgency. My impression is that the author would prefer that we take a far more heavy-handed approach, with less regard to who is a fringe ideologue and who is just a normal Arab who wants to tend his field, milk his goats, and raise his kids. The surest way to fuel an insurgency is to roll into town as the foreigner and start mistreating people. That sends them into the arms of the insurgents.

    Good Sowell piece as well, though I only skimmed it and need to come back to it later. The “talking past each other” issue is a good one to bring up regarding any issue that includes religion, because that is likely what everybody will do. I think the assumption that most people disagree upon is whether mainstream Islam is similar to, or sympathetic to, militant radical Islam. Rather than debating this issue, most people simply argue the views that result from it - they talk past each other.

    My fundmental assumption above is that radical militant Islam is not mainstream Islam – not even a large portion of Islam – and I would assert that a good demonstration of this occured when al-Qaeda in Iraq asserted control in Anbar province. Even to obtain control that tiny population, AQI had to terrorize them, and still they were rejected and the Shiekhs sought our assistance to drive AQI out. We’ve now seen that occur throughout northern Iraq, with AQI now making it’s last stand in Mosul.

    I realize that the author seemed to focus more on Europe, but to look at the radicals in Europe and to then assert that they will control the continent – that is quite an amazing leap. Muslims in Europe are a minority of the population (though growing), they do not control the military or police, and their economic power is not keeping pace with their population growth. They are largely lower to middle class and upset at what they perceive as a lack of autonomy and handouts (and the desire for autonomy largely springs forth from their rejection by society). Just as in the Middle East, the fringe elements get a whole lot more attention than the mainstream. The surest way to swell the ranks of the fringe elements is to direct frustration toward the mainstream Muslims who just go to work everyday and mind their own business.

     
  • At 1:18 PM, Blogger Brandon W. said…

    Steve,

    Are you saying that it is not within our (the people's) power to avoid a war, or are you saying that it is not within our (the United States government's) power to avoid a war? This point was unclear to me, and it has made me ponder over my ideas for a while. I do not support the war in Iraq, but I do believe that the people of the United States have the power to change how we go about this war. I will say that the Bush Administration has not been very reasonable with their tactics for going into Iraq and it seems that they will not listen to the American citizens' cry for withdrawl, but as citizens, we can vote for government leaders that will make the right decisions about the war and possibly retreat. Who knows...maybe your kids won't end up fighting a war in Europe after all. As a kind request, I would like for you to take a look at my short blog that I am currently building up (tractorfactor8410.blogspot.com). After reviewing my short opinion about the Bush Administration and the Iraq War, maybe you could leave some valuable insight for me in a comment or two. All comments would be greatly appreciated. And for anyone who might read this comment, feel free to venture into my blog and leave me a comment! Thanks!

    Brandon

     
  • At 12:27 AM, Blogger trollsmyth said…

    I dunno about war. It might be, in Europe, at least, to be more like cooking frogs. As people realize, piecemeal, what's going on, small pockets of resistance will flare up, only to be suppressed or crushed. I mean, the powers-that-be in Europe can't stomach a bit of fluff like Fitna. They'll take care of anybody who threatens to rock the boat until they get replaced by the sorts of folks who will stone or topple walls on top of anyone who tries to resist.

    Which means no war, as we understand the term, though our grandchildren will curse us for allowing the burning of the Louvre and other European treasures.

     
  • At 4:44 PM, Blogger Ted said…

    trollsmyth may be on to something.
    I've never been to Europe, but what I've seen come out of there suggests the same left-leaning, willful ignorance that is killing America: No one worth mentioning in the political class wishes to oppose Islamisation for fear of being perceived as politically incorrect; same issue we have with Mexicanization - though Mexicans aren't Jihad-prone.
    Time and stupidity may well take their toll. The fruited plain of history is littered with the debris of idiotic politicos who tried to love everyone and put up with everything for no other reason than popularity, under the delusion they were creating Utopia: Most who've tried to bring heaven on earth - especially socialists - have ended up unleashing hell instead!

     
  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger mr_oni said…

    The Simmons story reminded me of this hilarious time travel piece.
    http://www.abyssandapex.com/200710-wikihistory.html

    In the past I've argued that what scares the Europeans most about America's "cowboy" culture is that our demographics are changing and the non-european majority isn't going to give a damn about defending Europe.

     
  • At 5:04 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Heck, I don't much give a damn about defending Europe anymore. West Europe that is. My problem is that the part of Europe I care about is the East, and it lies between the Euraisan invasion corridor and the west...

     

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