Thursday, February 14, 2008

Where have all the soldiers gone?

The Climate Debate Daily website is a stellar example of the aggregative power of the Internet. There, in tabular form, both sides of the "Global Warming Debate" are dispassionately represented.

The site is in part the handiwork of Denis Dutton, who produces a similar digest for the more literary minded called Arts and Letters Daily. Both are wonderful resources.

Why aren't there more such sites? Probably because the content is hard to generate. Each entry represents an enormous reductive effort. What Dutton essentially does is create a sequence of symbolic keys to complex ideas. Those keys allow us -- roughly -- to refer to very elaborate narratives in a compact way. This is important because the keys; that is to say the summaries Dutton produces can be joined to other keys in useful way. In other words, the sites allow us to connect events and concepts by associating their essential ideas.

For example, Arts and Letters Daily lets us into a whole new world with the attention-grabbing summary "that at least outside the ruins of the Balkans, no European war has been fought for more than 60 years." The hyperlink to which it leads is a long IHT book review of James J. Sheehan's Where Have All the Soldiers Gone: The Transformation of Modern Europe.

Sheehan charts the journey of Europe from one of the most warlike continents on earth to the one in which military establishments have all but atrophied. The book reminds modern readers about how Europeans once thought Americans were pacifist degenerates. Evelyn Waugh wrote, "Of course the Americans are cowards. They are almost all the descendants of wretches who deserted their legitimate monarchs for fear of military service." But that is forgotten in a world where the current soundbite is "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus."

Sheehan's book raises the question of whether Europeans have achieved this new Nirvana through some enlightened rejection of conflict or whether they have abandoned war simply because they can -- now that America is providing for their defense. Yet this vast and fascinating subject, with all its connections to economics and history, would be too extensive get a handle on -- without a site like the Arts and Letters Daily. It is sites which summarize information which help us turn data into intelligence.

As the Internet increases to the point where it becomes the Mind Dump of civilization, the map of itself becomes one of the most important intellectual resources of the world. Google's fortune is built on that foundation: the need to know what we know. Yet while programmatic indexing has a large role to play in describing the outlines of human knowledge, sites like Climate Debate Daily and Arts and Letters Daily will play an important part in abstracting key concepts from a mass of information. It will help us make sense of our world, or at least give the illusion that we can.


Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

"Sheehan's book raises the question of whether Europeans have achieved this new Nirvana through some enlightened rejection of conflict or whether they have abandoned war simply because they can -- now that America is providing for their defense."

I'll offer a 3rd postulate. In a democratic society...a precursor to war must include a component of fear. Societies that have incurred substantial casualties in previous wars suffer from what I refer to as "Reality induced Paranoia".

In 1980(prior to Reagans Election)...some fairly Senior Military Officers were predicting privately that the Cold War would end roughly around 1985. When those Russians who had Adult Memory of WWII dropped dead...I.E. 20 years old in 1945 reaching the Russian life expectancy of 60 in 1985.

The US was the logical "Imposer of European Peace" until such time as the European Population no longer had a living memory of war.

The US civilian living memory of war died around 1905.

The living memory of war in Iran(Generally considered the largest threat to world peace) won't die until 2038.

The fundamental basis for confining someone suffering from Paranoia to a mental institution is that the risk that they will act on their delusions is substantial.

The US policy towards Iran has been containment since the late 1980' the policy towards the Soviet Union was containment since 1945

2/14/2008 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Europe in the house of war by Spengler in Asia Times on February 12, 2008

Violence is oozing through the cracks of European society like pus out of a broken scab. Just when liberal opinion congratulated itself that Europe had forsaken its violent past, the specter of civil violence has the continent terrified. ... Writing in the Times of London, the editor of the London Spectator, Matthew d'Ancona, quoted former British Conservative parliamentarian Enoch Powell's warning that concessions to alien cultures would cause "rivers of blood" to flow in the streets of England.


Sheehan is woefully misguided. Europe may not have war, but it already has violence: its political authorities cringe and scurry and evade and lie in the face of actual or threatened violence by its Muslim communities. If its duly-constituted governments abandon their monopoly of violence to self-appointed religious leaders, the likelihood is that a river of blood will flow, just as Powell warned in 1968.

2/14/2008 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chief RZ said...

Well, remember, we insisted after WWII that Germany and Japan not rearm. We also acted as Germany's nanny for many years and, in fact have over 100,000 soldiers still there. France still has garrisons in Germany.

2/14/2008 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

The Scandinavian Countries, for all their Socialist delusions, have been experiencing war against their women for over a decade, by brave Muslim immigrants.

It is part of a clear pattern, whether intentional and conscious, or simply the result of the population density of sexually-mature Islamic males reaching a critical mass within a host population, like the eukariotic slime molds of the forest --- a bunch of independent single-celled beasties that begin to congregate and form a purposeful and independent critter, which goes on to squidge off through the leaf litter, shouldering aside pebbles and twigs, and feeding on smaller critturs as it ranges.

The Islamic youths in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Nederlands have been harassing unaccompanied girls and women for years, calling them sluts and whores, and more recently, gang-raping and viciously beating hundreds of them. (Estimated hundreds of victims per month throughout those countries, considering the scores of victims reported by each country.)

The police are given little or no assistance by the Islamic elders of the offending communities, since they likewise regard the infidel women as completely deserving of such treatment.

This may be called a form of Jihad, since it is evidently sanctioned by the Qur'an for Islamic men to capture and rape disbelieving women. Mohammed the Prophet himself distributed the widows and daughters of murdered and executed opponents to his companions and sons, for them to be used as sexual slaves, concubines, and additional "wives."

2/14/2008 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

If Europe wants to disarm my inclination is to tell them to go ahead and then remove all our troops from Europe. Same for non naval bases in Asia. So long as the USA is the preeminent naval power we can go anywhere anytime we have to.

From a war fighting perspective we have no useful allies. Even if the spirit were willing there is nobody else who has the equipment, the training, or the doctrine to keep up with us in a war of maneuver. Allies would just get in the way although they could be useful in the post major combat phase to mop up and pacify. Even then, Afghanistan is proving that our so called allies may be more trouble than they are worth.

We are honor bound to finish the job in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as they can be finished, but after that? I see little value in the USA going it alone in W. Pakistan unless the intention was to reduce the Hindu Kush, and everybody there, to dusty rolling hills. A small arms engagement with limited ROI would truly become a nightmare. Even Alexander recoiled from that one.

I'd have to think it through, but the thought of Fortress America cheering from the sidelines is growing more appealing.

2/14/2008 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger LifeoftheMind said...

Mourn the diminution of Europe.
never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee

2/14/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

The major problem I see with the internet from being the great Mind Dump of civilization is that it tends to reinforces one's thinking and makes it hard for new and different viewpoints/thinking to gain traction. This site is a perfect example. Those of us that frequent this site I think are pretty much of the same mindset, with a few varying and relatively minor points of disagreement. There are those, of course, that are the contrarians, but they are the minority. I think people naturally gravitate to sites where their belief systems are validated. And for every belief system out there, there is a site in which an individual can find other like minded individuals, and made to think “Hey, I’m not alone in thinking like this”. The same sort of process we see say in an integrated school where the races self-segregate despite the intent and reason for the school. For the most part you won’t find a Kos Filer reading the threads over at FreeRepublic, and a Freeper won’t be reading the postings over at the Huffington Post. Yes, there are the trolls and free thinking souls that like to mix it up, but for the most part Internet users will be at the sites that validate who they are and how they think. That is the real challenge that the Internet poses to modern society: that society doesn’t self-segregate and people become more close-minded than they naturally tend to be.

Since the subject of global warming, ummm, climate change, was brought up, here is something that so may find of interest:

2/14/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

North American Union, Mexico Sytlez

2/14/2008 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...


2/14/2008 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger The Count said...

Thanks Wretchard for sifting through so much information and distilling it into something more comprehesible for my puny brain. You're my personal shopper of wisdom!

2/14/2008 10:45:00 PM  

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