Friday, April 14, 2017

Predictability Part 2: Warfare

     As I wrote yesterday, when armed conflict arises, predictability loses the value it has in peacetime. All other things being equal, a predictable adversary is one whose moves can be countered with confidence. Therefore, a nation at war cannot afford to be predictable.

     However, there’s an exception of enormous importance.

     For openers, I will once again quote military SF writer Tom Kratman, from the afterword to his novel A Desert Called Peace:

     [I]t has been said more than once that you should choose enemies wisely, because you are going to become just, or at least, much like them. The corollary to this is that your enemies are also going to become very like you....

     If I could speak now to our enemies, I would say: Do you kill innocent civilians for shock value? So will we learn to do, in time. Do you torture and murder prisoners? So will we. Are you composed of religious fanatics? Well, since humanistic secularism seems ill-suited to deal with you, don't be surprised if we turn to our churches and temples for the strength to defeat and destroy you. Do you randomly kill our loved ones to send us a message? Don't be surprised, then, when we begin to target your families, specifically, to send the message that our loved ones are not stationery.

     This is a central motif in Tom’s “Carreraverse” series, which chronicles the conflicts that beset the small, politically unique nation of Balboa on Terra Nova. It’s not a philosophical thesis but a law of human nature:

Savagery begets savagery.

     Like the other laws of nature, it can neither be repealed nor modified by any legislature. There are no exceptions to it.

     Arguments over the value of predictability cannot alter a law of nature.

     When civilized society C finds itself in conflict with savage force S – i.e., a force that openly dismisses the Judeo-Christian moral and ethical constraints that characterize an advanced civilization – a seemingly moral quandary arises: Can we defeat them without descending to their level?

     Note the occurrence of the word seemingly in the above statement. The moral nature of the quandary might be illusory, for much depends on the pragmatic characteristics of the conflict:

  1. What is the correlation of forces between C and S?
  2. What costs would accrue to C from a victorious campaign?
  3. Would S’s military defeat solve the problem? If not, what would?

     If the answers to those questions are all satisfactory, C has no insurmountable problem before it. However, let any one of the answers be unsatisfactory, i.e.:

  1. S is as formidable as C, if not more so; or:
  2. The costs would badly destabilize C, perhaps irrecoverably; or:
  3. The problem cannot be solved by a military campaign. Other methods are morally inadmissible.

     ...and the problem acquires a moral dimension. Tom Kratman’s observation then looms large, for among the developments that can ruin a society is the erosion of its common morals and ethics.

     History has not yet recorded a period in which a single nation, if opposed by all the other nations of the world, could not be defeated. There has always been a global counterbalance against true hegemony by any single nation, even if it was not invoked. Thus it has always been possible that nation C might face opposition so great that all hope of C’s victory was vain. That, of course, would exclude the possibility of a victory morally acceptable to C, as well.

     Kobayashi Maru, anyone?

     Consider the following scenario from On Broken Wings:

     "Next problem. No maps or planning tables this time. You're the commander of an attacking expeditionary force. Suppose the defenders here have a positional advantage, which allows them to repel any attack at ruinous cost to the attacker. However, it only works in defense, so they mount no counterattacks. Moreover, they don't appear to be interested in counterattack, and you have nothing to tempt them with. What do you do?"
     Christine pondered. "Well, I don't attack here, that's for sure."
     Loughlin snorted. "You think it's always that simple? Maybe there are no tactical alternatives. Imagine that the General Staff disagrees with you about the impossibility of a successful assault, only you know that you're right and just can't demonstrate it without slaughtering a quarter million of your own men. Imagine that you have political pressure building up on your shoulders." Anger crackled through the words. "The people at home are demanding a quick end to the war and the return of their sons. The Emperor has already speculated openly about whether it might be time to replace you. Your troops trust you and will do whatever you say. It's worse: your troops can't imagine what's holding you up. They want to charge across the desert and annihilate those Godless devils, and they're perfectly sure they can do it."
     She grimaced. "You're talking about a no-win scenario. I've been charged with delivering a tactical success from a situation that doesn't allow one, and nobody knows it but me."
     "Well, what should I do?"
     He raised his fists over his head as if to smash them against the table, and held them there. After a moment he seemed to recover himself, and brought his hands down before him, staring at them as if he wished they belonged to someone else.
     "I don't know." His voice was bleak. He turned his hands over and stared at his palms, then joined them in a trembling grip. "I didn't know then, and I don't know now."
     "Never mind."

     A civilized nation facing a savage enemy will sometimes be caught in a situation that inflexible. Consider our current face-off against world Islam. (Yes, we are at war with Islam; we’re just reluctant to admit it. Sufficiently prolonged, that reluctance might get us all enslaved or dead. Islam, you see, has no qualms about being at war with us.) There are exactly two ways for the civilized West to prevail over the savagery of Islam:

  • Quarantine: the confinement of Islam’s adherents to an enclosed, tightly patrolled space;
  • Genocide: the elimination of Islam’s adherents from the face of the Earth.

     Both those solutions trouble a great many Westerners on moral grounds. They regard quarantine as a form of imprisonment without trial. Genocide, of course, would involve the slaughter of persons who might have nothing criminal to account for, and no conscious hostility toward anyone. To this point, those moral qualms have handcuffed the West in its dealings with imperialist, inherently violent Islam.

     They’ve also made us predictable in the near term.

     At every terrorist attack, our panjandrums orate about “bringing the perpetrators to justice.” But justice of that sort is a peacetime conception, carefully defined by penal laws and rules of procedure that can’t be honored on a battlefield. Moreover, our domestic enemies are eager to have those handcuffs bind us absolutely and permanently, such that we can’t even investigate such attacks effectively. Thus, they who would terrorize us into the “shariafication” of the West believe they can foresee our moves with high accuracy. Up to now, that belief has been correct.

     But Tom Kratman’s key observation:

     [I]t has been said more than once that you should choose enemies wisely, because you are going to become just, or at least, much like them. The corollary to this is that your enemies are also going to become very like you....

     ...will not be denied in the long term. The restraint the West has enforced upon itself, which stems almost entirely from the denial of the inherent war between Islam and societies founded on Judeo-Christian principles, is causing pressure to build up. The longer it builds, the higher it will rise. Its release is already likely to result in the deaths of millions, including millions of nominal innocents. That, too, is predictable. What’s entirely unpredictable is the exact course of events: which millions will die, by what method, and by whose hand.

     Long term, the predictability of Western survival depends on our becoming unpredictable in the near term. That will be the case for as long as the conflict should last.

     The geniuses of conflict studies have poured much hard thought into these matters. To the best of my knowledge, there has never been general concurrence among them. Nor would I represent my own thoughts as conclusive. Like everything else I write, I’ve expressed them in the hope of stimulating still further thoughts.

     (There are other approaches to this subject, including Frank Fleming’s classic essay “Nuke the Moon.” Unfortunately, I can’t find a linkable copy at this time. Any help, Gentle Readers?)


Rich in NC said...

Francis W. Porretto said...

It doesn't seem to load, Rich.

Anonymous said...

"Well, what should I do?"

Actively refuse to help your country shoot itself in the foot. Go public and explain the situation plainly with maps and diagrams. Saving the lives of your soldiers, the prevention of a huge battle loss, and revealing to the public that the politicians don't know what they are doing are all positives you can gain. Of course the politicians won't see it that way, but that's how you know they are bad politicians. Make sure to make that point to the public.

Muslim terrorists are achieving the mass-murder successes they are due to exploiting a variety of terrible policies: gun control, prosecuting self-defenders who shoot, and police agencies letting alleged terrorist crime planners off the hook after they have been reported for something suspicious. All of these policies are enforced by ordinary voters, not Muslim terrorists. Stop obeying the ordinary voters and start defending yourself with a handgun, and the Muslim terrorist wins will diminish.

daniel_day said...

The link worked for me.

Jimmy the Saint said...

Counter-terror seems a long overdue response in dealing with Islam.

doubletrouble said...

I left a link on 'part 1'

Col. B. Bunny said...

I read a book about the Allied war effort in the Pacific during WWII and their response to the Japanese "surrender is cowardice" point of view. It surprised the Americans and Australians initially but then they were more than happy to oblige the Japanese by not taking them prisoner. Word got around.

An account by a Marine on Guadalcanal, I believe, told of a comrade being captured and tortured underground for three days by the Japanese. He could hear the man's screams. He didn't address the issue of how he and his comrades chose to fight the rest of their battles but I can make an educated guess. Too, Japanese snipers hiding in the tree tops were initially effective but Americans soon learned just to hose down the treetops. Point here being that people observe and adapt quickly.

Western nations are full of such tough and observant people but our civilization is so broken that we have such slime to deal with as Frans Timmermans, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, the flavor of the month in whatever Scandinavian country you want to name, and what passes for the American political elite. The nerve pathways don't work such that the T cells don't go where they're needed and operate as they routinely do. Exhibit A is the Sacred Mantra that even the "patriotic, conservative" Fox News utters 24/7, namely, "radical Islam" and its variants. If this were December 8, 1941, the equivalent would be FDR speaking about moderate Japanese and misunderstanders of the essential peacefulness of Japanese core beliefs.

In fact, the T cells operate quite backwards. The full force of the state is called forth to punish citizens who sound the alarm. For the obstinate there are the AntiFa auxiliaries who can be -- and are -- called forth (without official punishment) to crack a few heads, smash teeth, and crush larynxs.

We have been betrayed from within. The recent turn to a warlike, arrogant, confrontational foreign policy has been an object lesson in who and what determines events in America, for example.


Col. B. Bunny said...

There's a third option to dealing with Islam. It requires us to refuse any longer to grant Muslims the privilege of being treated as equals and as people who have a sincere desire to get along and contribute to the larger Western society in which they find themselves. They don't and never will. The Muslim is innately an enemy of everything that is decent about our civilization.

The approach is then, whether quarantined or allowed to remain in Western societies, basically a "we've had it with you lot and you will now cut the crap." Sorry for the crude language but there the correct approach is in its starkest expression. An imam anywhere in the world who issues a fatwa calling for the death of an infidel, a blasphemer, a homosexual, etc. will be declared by the West to be an outlaw, someone who can be killed without legal penalty, if not reward. If Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and the savants of the eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence do not instantly undertake to "rediscover" that apostasy is no longer a killing offense and that any and all tenets of Islam are open to interpretation by all believers without penalty, then there will be hell to pay. Husbands whose wives appear in public with hijabs and niqabs are to be flogged according to national laws that must be enacted and enforced. Instances of harassment and killing of infidels in Muslim lands must lead to heavy penalties.

All Muslims in any Western state are to be stripped of citizenship, denied welfare and the vote, and treated exactly as dhimmis are treated now in Muslim lands. Minor crimes by Muslims must be the occasion for summary deportation without recourse.

Islam is the single greatest curse visited on mankind save for the establishment of Lucifer as an enemy of God. People who favor a "nice doggy" approach to the Muslim are fools.

Steady Steve said...

There is a better way Col Bunny, Fran. To destroy Islam utterly and completely without commiting genocide, destroy with nuclear weapons ALL of their "holy cities". Mecca and Medina for the Sunni, And there are a couple in Iraq and Iran ,which escape memory ,for the Shia.
Without the ability to make their pilgrimage to these places, their religion falls apart as this is one of the "pillars" of it. Then expel all adherents in Western lands. Those places are an integral part of the Islamic "system" without which it will wither and die.