Saturday, November 11, 2006

Nasty enough to win?

Spengler has written an apocalyptic essay that has two themes. Firstly, that this is a War of Civilisations. But rather than term it Christianity vs Islam, he would prefer the oppostion Traditional vs Revolutionary, in which the first is Islam, what he calls the "apotheosis of traditional society", and the second is the US, which is "a global avalanche of creative destruction that rips apart the bindings of traditional life". Strangely enough, Americans don't understand this and so don't understand the to-the-death opposition that confronts them in the Middle East.

Islam cannot withstand the final dissolution of traditional society that comes with the triumph of globalization. Its entire raison d'etre is a stubborn refusal to adapt, in the fashion that the Chinese have adapted, to a new world with new ground rules. To intervene in the Islamic world is to hasten the dissolution of traditional society and with it the world of Islam. For all his good intentions, Bush appears to Iraqis as the worst thing to visit them since the Mongols in the 14th century.
The second theme is one of those ideas that, in the US, you can discuss, but Europe recoils from even mentioning.
Alexander killed 230,000 Persians at Gaugamela in 331 BC against 4,000 Greek and allied dead. In ancient warfare the pursuers slaughtered the pursued, and the side that ran took all the casualties. Whole civilizations melted away before the onslaught of superior forces. The great error in Western policy is to imagine that anything fundamental has changed.
In other words, to strike 'surgically' may salve consciences, but is, in the end, not only inefficient, but self-defeating. Germany was reformable not because it was defeated, but because it was decimated. There was a point to Dresden. The Americans refuse to acknowedge this. Therefore they are doomed to failure.

I'm not sure what to think of all this. However, I know this. That in maintaining dominion, the squeamish are on the side of the enemy. And that what succeeds the dominion of one group is not universal justice, but the dominion of another. The British knew this. To quash a previous outbreak of Islamic enthusiasm, they fought the Battle of Omdurman (1898). In the army of the Mahdi, around 10,000 were killed, 13,000 wounded, and 5,000 were taken prisoner. Kitchener's force lost 48 men with 382 wounded. That is assymetrical warfare.

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