How will the Long War affect America? Will it make us stronger or weaker? Crazy? Unleash our dark side?

This is the first in a series discussing (speculating)  how our Long War will affect America.  On 9-11-2009 we will have been at war for 8 years.  With increasing intensity:   spending more money, more men and women fighting, expanding the size of our armies, expanding the area of combat.  How has that affected us?

2. Why we fight. Causes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
3. Killing prisoners, our new tactic in the War on Terror?
4. Bloodlust – a natural by-product of a long war?

It seems an important question, although it’s received almost no attention.  I have only a vague idea where to go with this.  Please post any relevant references or thoughts in the comments!

Contents

  1. Warnings from Sun Tzu
  2. Warning from Alexis De Tocqueville

(1)  Warnings from Sun Tzu

The Art of War has a few useful insights about waging war.  First, a warning.

“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

Second, here are two lines that mirror our situation.

“Poverty of the State treasury causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance.”

Much as our wars are financed by loans from China and OPEC.

“Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.”

Yep. The pro-war folks almost never compare these wars’ benefits to their costs. Reading their reports suggests that they believe money grows on trees.

But Sun Tzu lived in a monarchy.  Its dynamics were unlike those of a Republic.  What is the effect on our culture of a long war?  Will it make us stronger — or weaker?  Increase our social cohesion, or fracture it?  Strengthen our will, or unleash passions from our dark side?

(2)  A warning from Alexis De Tocqueville

Update — from comment #7by Grimgrin.

An excerpt from Democracy in America, Chapter 22Why Democratic Nations Naturally Desire Peace, and Democratic Armies War:

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. Not indeed that after every victory it is to be apprehended that the victorious generals will possess themselves by force of the supreme power, after the manner of Sulla and Caesar; the danger is of another kind.

War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance are:

42 thoughts on “How will the Long War affect America? Will it make us stronger or weaker? Crazy? Unleash our dark side?”

  1. Scott, the UN,as designed by the US (with lesser inputs from the UK, etc) by Roosevelt, your cleverest President by far, was designed to do interventions by:

    Moral and legal authority. Never underestimate this, later backed by the ICC, the idea that leaders of countries could be prosecuted for breaking World agreed norms of behaviour is incredibly powerful.

    Real Aid, not the self serving rubbish we all use today, it was health, education, agricultural help, training, a little capital, targeted directly at the people of the country, etc. The FAO and WHO have saved more lives than have been taken by all the wars of the world put together (let us all sing their praises).

    “Peace Keeping”, which is really just basic police work to restore law and order. Not military intervention as we know it today, just the basics when everything else had broken down. And don’t decry it when it works (translated not sabotaged by ‘great power’ imperatives)it has worked well in many places (such as East Timor).

    So the real issue of the UN has been the failure to make it more democratic and have more influence from the World as a whole, rather that the in-fighting from a few, historically gifted, countries (I mean the UK and France have seats on the Security Council .. que?).

    And the sadness of the US, who created the UN, subverting and then actively trying to destroy it in recent times. Plus sabotaging things like: bans on landmines, cluster bombs, torture, the Law of the Sea, et al. Instead of bolstering these things, which cheaply advance ‘real’ long term US interests, has instead gone for short term militaristic aims .. and blowing a trillion or so dollars along the way.. you have got to question the brains.

    Hey, maybe you can clone Roosevelt and bring him back again.

  2. FM: the article itself sites the Minutemen, which are known, by at least locals there, to exist (plus there have been a lot of reports along the way). There does seem to be some people taking the law into their own hands rather than doing, as this guy seems to do, aid it.

    The ‘dark side’ vs ‘good old American know how’.

    But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see a possible future where State and Federal authorities don’t have the resources to do basic law and order (e.g. Jefferson County), plus all the prisiners that are going to be let free because there is no money (ah lah Dimitri Orlov’s prediction, which seems to be born out by California right now).

    Now how will ordinary American respond to this, well or badly? This takes us back to much, much earlier discussions about Bill Lind’s comments about the need for local Militia’s.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This reads like fantasy — of the sort carefully encouraged by media stories (a fearful bourgeoisie is a tame bourgeoisie).

    (1) “which are known, by at least locals there, to exist”

    Known by the rest of us also, since they have been interviewed by the media a million times.

    (2) “There does seem to be some people taking the law into their own hands rather than doing”

    Cannot prove it by anything you have cited, nor by the thousands of journalists frantically but unsuccessfully trying to get something on the Minutemen. Also, the “some people” formulation is esp bogus. There are “some people” comitting crimes of every sort. That does not indicate a popular uprising of any sort.

    (3) “But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see a possible future where State and Federal authorities don’t have the resources to do basic law and order”

    It takes a great deal of imagination, since there is zero evidence there is a problem. Crime rates are stable (unlike UK where many categories of crime are rising). As for the hype about Jefferson Country, cities have gone bankrupt (e.g., NYC) without reverting to Tombstone-like conditions.

    (4) “plus all the prisiners that are going to be let free because there is no money”

    Since those people would have been jailed nowhere else in the developed world, I doubt that this will result in a crime wave.

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