Friday, February 15, 2008

Winds of War: “The Most Committed Wins”

In the movie, The Siege, which, by the way, was before 9-11 and had no trouble portraying terrorists as Muslims, the CIA agent told the FBI agent that in the war on terror, “The Most Committed Wins”.

Over at Sultan Knish, they pose a question.

Two men are locked in a single room. One has a knife and the other has a machine gun. One is determined to kill the other. Which one will walk out of that room alive?

The paradox of civilization is that superior force on the battlefield requires an industrial and intellectual culture capable of producing the technological innovations that make victory possible. Yet this is not a straight line progression, instead civilizations that use technology to create truly advanced and prosperous societies also hit what we might call Huxley's Peak, the point at which creature comforts and social decadence make the idea of force itself sublimely unattractive so that the very industrial and intellectual culture that creates a superior technological military also hamstrings it.

Now let's go back to the two men in the room.

One has a knife and one has a machine gun. One is determined to kill the other. Which one will walk out of that room alive? The answer is, the one who is determined to kill the other. A weapon is no good unless it is used. Using a weapon as a bluff only works once at most and it stops working if your opponent is willing to take the risk or knows you won't use it.

The nature of the world is two men in a room, one has a gun and one has a knife. The man with the gun insists on trying to reason with the man with the knife, to enlighten him and democratize him. The man with the knife meanwhile grins and creeps closer and takes a few swipes at him. In return the man with the gun threatens him, waves the gun around and occasionally takes a shot at him to warn him away, without really trying to hit him. Is it any real mystery who will emerge alive from this conflict?

More important than the ability to fight is the willingness to fight.

Remember how Indian Jones answered the question?

We have the weapons but do we have the will?

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