Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dave Schuler, who I have discovered has a polymathic grasp of most subjects, had an important post at The Glittering Eye that I would like to direct to the attention of those readers inclined to strategy and military affairs. I have reproduced Dave's post in it's entirety:

The adaptive functionality of limitations on war

"At Gene Expressions, matoko-chan has posted a consideration of just war theory from an evolutionary standpoint, reflections on a give-and-take we’d had in the comments of one of my posts on just wars.

It’s important that we not lose track of the fact that human social systems and the laws and rules of ethics that come with them are technologies, tools for living happier and more satisfying lives. The ethical and legal principles governing the decision to go to war and how war should be conducted most definitely has benefits. They enable members of societies that practice them to specialize and, as has been known for nearly 300 years, that has economic benefits—we’re more prosperous as a result and live healthier, more fulfilling lives as a result. Practicing such principles allows the societies to avoid certain costs.

I am concerned that what we’re seeing in the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, both on the part of the Israelis and on the part of Hezbollah, will become the future way of war in a post-Westphalian world. This is the world being created by the radicals and ideologues who have degraded the role of states in human society by attempting to reduce the role of states and treating non-states as though they were states. That is the nature of radicals and ideologues: they hurry to discard social technologies without understanding the purpose and workings of the technology they’re discarding. I think it’s a world that will be poorer and meaner.

If you want to understand the social, economic, and psychological costs of this new world, look to Israel. They’ve been adapting to them for the last 50 years."

I'm reserving comment for the moment hoping that those of you who have been deeply engaged in thinking about emerging military theories ( or, alternatively, attacking them) will offer your views on Dave's post either here or at The Glittering Eye.
I think I understand now. I wouldn’t want to cause another world leader (http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/06/28/russia.putin.reut/index.html) to go around kissing little boys (http://connectinginconversation.org/larrydunbar/2006/06/23/connectivity-on-the-local-level-i-want-to-give-you-a-kiss/#respond). Maybe we should roll things through the web first.

I understand, it is like Dave said, “It’s important that we not lose track of the fact that human social systems and the laws and rules of ethics that come with them are technologies…”.

I agree. Christ created the technology (rules of ethics) that enabled him to live thousands of years; I am ok with that. But are not the terrorists just trading one technology for another?

But then, doesn’t the ethics of: love-enables-friction (love your enemy) trump, equality-for-all (God’s will), which trumps brotherhood? So if Dave is an American and America is a Christian nation, and Christ is about love, in the end, what do we have to fear from a terrorist, as long as we remain Christian and the terrorist is not?

Or is love now viewed as a Christian weakness? I am but a simple man, maybe Dave should ask the Pope or someone else higher up, I mean if Dave is Christian and Catholic. Sorry, I really don’t mean to revert to sloppy generalizations here.

The corporate boys , Beauty, Some commentors on Tom Barnetts site, and of course TDXP are just about the only ones, besides you, that ever responds to the things I comment on anyway? As your last few back-posts tells us, it is better to talk things over before you post, but if you were unconnected as I am, who would you talk this stuff over with? I mean would this comment be accurate enough to use as a post or would I want to wait, if anyone really cared, for the dust to settle before posting?
The post at Gene Expression makes my skin crawl. Let's just think for a moment about the implications of the "is/ought" dichotomy for discussions of jus ad bellum and jus in bello, and whether we really ought to be inferring rules of ethics from interesting, but still poorly substantiated, EP theories of cultural evolution
maybe after you guys have finished discussing the various theories involved, you could explain why the heck the Israeli's haven't carpet bombed Southern Lebanon. Oh, no doubt they don't even have enough dumb iron bombs laying around to do such a thing even if they wanted to do this. Until Israel demonstrates this level of determination there is no hope for the situation to be resolved.

Hi Larry,

Some of your observations, rooted as they are in analogies drawn from various physics disciplines, are over most people's heads.

Every so often I have to say" Is Larry right, wrong or am I misremembering the science ?" Not being properly trained in the field I have to pause and re-think my answers which definitely slows my response time.

Dr. Dan,

GeneXp didn't do it for me on that one either.

There's ample reasons, intellectually speaking, for purposes of consilience, to contemplate the effects of genetics on behavior and in turn on the development of ethics. But the fact that ethics is supposed to lift humanity above simple biological behaviors really has to be the driver in the equation - lest humanity once again rationalize moral abomninations.
No disagreement here on either point.

Your simplistic faith in demonstrating resolve is simply that, faith. Any evidence that this is the problem? How does history stand up to your assertion? Pretty poorly I would say.
A couple of points Bill. First, I've always been fascinated by how various military actions are either considered "moral" or not. For example, in the current popular U.S. view, bombing Germany in WWII is considered a good thing although perhaps Dresden was a bit much. Nuking Japanese cities is definitely a no-no although fire-bombing Tokyo is O.K. Shooting a bunker with a flame thrower and burning the inhabitants alive is O.K. but irradiating him with a neutron bomb would also be a definite no-no. Mass slaughter in both these cases, whether one considers it moral or not, brought about the desired political end.
Fast forward to the Israeli situation. Israel is fighting a group of people in Southern Lebanon that wants to exterminate them. They specifically target Israeli civilians and if you read their literature you find that they don't view Jews as humans. The Israeli response has been miniscule to non-existent. Blowing up a few bridges and targeting a few Hez. headquarters is basically a non-response. To suggest that a massive military response would not solve the problem is silly. You may not consider it moral, but that is another topic.

P.S. I would also suggest that your view of the morality of it might depend whether or not the Hez. rockets are landing on your house.
Anon said, “I've always been fascinated by how various military actions are either considered "moral" or not”

It is not about morality; it is about winning. The carpet-bombing of our enemies didn’t win us the war. It was the way we carried out the war of attrition that gave us victory. We minimized the death of civilians, we treated our enemies fairly and most importantly we forgave our enemies (maybe these are no longer relevant traits for the USA). We also carpet-bombed them, which according to the reports I’ve read didn’t really even slow their production of war machines. So, even if you are a moral person or not, and genocide doesn’t make you blink, at least think about winning.
Regarding carpet bombing:

Given Hezbollah's preference for indiscriminate rocket attacks, to quote Michael Scheuer, "there's much to be said for the killing of foreigners" but that killing has to make some kind of contextual sense in order to have the desired political and military effects on your enemy.

In other words, the people who die as collateral damage should be those supporting the nasty bastards in Hezbollah- i.e. their family, friends and assorted cheerleaders hosting armed fighters in their homes and neighborhoods. It gives the lesson that patronizing the Hezbollah Day Care Center and School of Jihad might not be a wise option. It also informs Hezbollah that it is not Israel's duty to concern itself with the safety of their noncombatant Islamist fanatics.

OTOH, Blowing up Lebanese Sunnis, Druze, Christians and Shiites who support Amal (Hezbollah's rival), Lebanese government infrastructure and the like will not help Israel's cause and will contribute to the strengthening of Hezbollah. It is a losing proposition for Israel on moral, diplomatic and political terms to just blast away at so heterogeneous a society like German artillery at the Somme.

So, no to carpetbombing IMHO.
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