On War

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

On War

Postby kmich » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:22 pm

Revisiting Carl von Clausewitz recently. I was struck by the clarity of Anatol Rapoport’s 1968 introduction to On War, where he outlines the three, philosophical approaches: the political, the eschatological and the cataclysmic. I took the liberty of summarizing his introduction from various online sources below:

Clausewitz was arguably the most important proponent of the political philosophy of war, which famously defined warfare as ‘an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will’ This philosophy conceived of war as being rational, national and instrumental. By this Clausewitz meant that the decision to employ the military instrument by waging war ought to be made on the basis of a rational calculation taken by the political authority concerned in order to achieve some specified goal. In Clausewitz’s schema political authority resided in sovereign states. During his lifetime (1780–1831), war was widely viewed as a legitimate instrument of state policy albeit one that should be used only with a clear purpose in mind. In practice, victory in such rational, national and instrumental wars usually went to those who were most accomplished in the arts of attrition and maneuver.

In contrast to this view, the eschatological philosophy revolves around ‘the idea that history, or at least some portion of history, will culminate in a “final” war leading to the unfolding of some grand design – divine, natural, or human.’ Rapoport suggested that this philosophy comes in two variants: messianic and global. In the messianic variant the agency destined to carry out the ‘grand design’ is presumed to exist already. Its ‘mission’ was likely to involve ‘imposing a just peace on the world’, thus ‘eliminating war from future history’. Expressions of such a philosophy have included the crusaders’ attempts to unite the known world under a single faith in the Middle Ages, the Nazi doctrine of the Master Race, al-Qaida’s vision of a global caliphate, or America’s final eradication of the “evil of “terrorism” and spreading “freedom and democracy.” “This is a war between good and evil. And we have made it clear to the world that we will stand strong on the side of good, and we expect other nations to join us. This is not a war between our world and their world. It is a war to save the world…. There is no neutral ground – no neutral ground – in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death.” (– G. W. Bush 2002, 2004)

In the global variant, the ‘grand design’ is presumed to arise from the chaos of the ‘final war’. In Christian eschatology, for example, this would involve forces which will rally around Christ in the Second Coming. Alternatively, in communist eschatology the struggle for power was waged between classes rather than between states or religions. From this perspective the emergence of the ‘world proletariat’ was required to convert imperialist war into class war and, after defeating the bourgeoisie, to establish a world order in which wars will no longer occur.

Finally, the cataclysmic philosophy conceived of war ‘as a catastrophe that befalls some portion of humanity or the entire human race.’ Tolstoy is one proponent of this view. In this view, war could be seen as a scourge of God or as an unfortunate by-product of the anarchic ‘international system’. This philosophy also comes in two variants: ethnocentric and global. In the ethnocentric version, war is understood as something that is likely to befall us; specifically war is something that others threaten to do to us. The coming war is not seen as beneficial to us; all that can be done is to forestall the impending disaster or alleviate its worst effects. For example, this is seen in the view in Judaism of war as a punishment from God on the Israelites in certain books of the Tenakh. These books sees war as an ineluctable act of God, in the same way Tolstoy especially emphasizes war as something that befalls man and is in no way under the influence of man's "free will", but is instead the result of irresistible global forces. In the global variant, war is a cataclysm that affects humanity as a whole and not just this or that group of humans. No one is held responsible and no one will benefit from it. As a result, this philosophy focuses attention on the prevention of war; ‘on uncovering the causes of war and on inventing institutionalized methods of conflict resolution.

In the contemporary wars in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, which philosophy are we and the other players employing? Has the philosophy chosen by various actors been shown to be applicable and useful or incoherent to political realities and related state interests in the Clausewitz sense and therefore fruitless? Which, if any, have succeeded and which, if any, have been shown to fail? Alternatively, which should be adopted and how should they be employed?

(I understand this is a big topic. I request that whatever, if any, discussion ensues on this be philosophically and historically disciplined to allow for clear discernment and not the usual partisan stuff that stirs up smoke, dust, and distractions around it.. Thanks. :) )
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Re: On War

Postby Miss_Faucie_Fishtits » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:55 pm

I'll review this in depth later, have to go to work now, but to add to the conversation Ken Collins explains Just War theology:

http://www.kencollins.com/explanations/why-13.htm

Just War theology in practise:

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Re: On War

Postby noddy » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:45 am

hopefully at a later stage i will feel inspired to dig a bit more into this.

1 requires 2 or 3 to work- you either need an existential crisis or a final solution mindset in the public at large to exploit. for the cynical rationalists plans to be enacted.
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Re: On War

Postby Typhoon » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:08 pm

This reminds me to add On War by Clausewitz to my essential reading list.
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Re: On War

Postby kmich » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:53 pm

Miss_Faucie_Fishtits wrote:I'll review this in depth later, have to go to work now, but to add to the conversation Ken Collins explains Just War theology:

http://www.kencollins.com/explanations/why-13.htm

Just War theology in practise:



Hi FF. As you are likely aware, there are a number of problems with the “Just War” theory. While many capable theologians offer consequential ethics for a “just war” (limiting violence, pursuing justice and a greater good), there is no real agreement an overriding set of principles or clear definitions. What exactly defines “legitimate authority,” “right intention,” “just cause,” or being more “right than your adversary’s cause?” These, and even the more pragmatic considerations of “last resort,” “proportionality,” and “a reasonable hope of success,” are left to the various actors to define for themselves with typically self-serving and self-justifying results.

This is largely due to the fact that wars are pursued by states based upon their interests at the time, and ethics are mere a gloss typically employed to sell the project to the public and perhaps soothe their own uneasy consciences. Clausewitz describes the popular passions during wars as “primordial violence, hatred, and enmity,” and these, historically, have often ended up being framed and exploited in eschatological, existential terms. The most destructive wars in history have been justified with the populace as a crusade for everything from fulfilling the will of God (Deus vult the battle cry of the First Crusade), to ensuring racial or ethnic purity, to fulfilling the true greatness of a people, an ethnicity, a nation, to the spread of secular values of freedom and “democracy “to “backward” societies, to conduct a “war to end all wars,” "to free "the people" from "capitalist exploitation," and so on.

Then once they begin, wars unleash forces that are uncontrolled and unpredictable obscuring moral considerations with what Clausewitz termed as the “fog of war” within the immediate passions and exigencies of the muddled charnel house of the battlefield. The chaos and violence of wars are hardly conducive to the considered reflections of an Augustine or an Aquinas.

Just war theories look at war as we believe it should be. Clausewitz discusses war as he experienced it and understood it to be in the early 19th century with the limitations of the views of his age. Those who have not studied him and read him superficially tend to see him as a pragmatic cynic. However, war without strategic clarity of national objectives and means becomes mindless chaos and cruelty in spite of whatever proclaimed noble intentions or the supposed justness of the cause. Clarity of national interests, and the careful assessment and reasoning of military objectives and available means holds the balance between the plays of soaring, unstable popular passions and the chance and chaos that accompany war in the Clausewitz "trinity." Such reasoned deliberations work to limit the destructive outcomes of the endless perpetuation of slaughter and destruction that are typically promoted by eschatological demands or the submission to cataclysmic cynicism in war. Unfortunately, Clausewitz depended upon the nation states and their leadership to provide such deliberative lucidity, authority, and direction which has been a hard faith to appreciate in consideration of what has transpired in much of our history since his times.

War, even when necessary, can never be made moral. Innocence is devilishly hard to clarify in war, and non-combatants, families, and children are killed, damaged, and maimed in war as a routine matter of course, today accompanied by the euphemism of “collateral damage.” It is morally incoherent to proclaim the “sanctity of life” while celebrating the just, heroic nature of the state’s military exercises in slaughtering fellow human beings and displacing their lives. While I am not a pacifist and realize war is sometimes necessary, war always condemns human kind with civilization’s most profound spiritual and ethical failings. There really is no way out of that
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Re: On War

Postby Miss_Faucie_Fishtits » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:10 am

kmich wrote:Hi FF. As you are likely aware, there are a number of problems with the “Just War” theory. While many capable theologians offer consequential ethics for a “just war” (limiting violence, pursuing justice and a greater good), there is no real agreement an overriding set of principles or clear definitions. What exactly defines “legitimate authority,” “right intention,” “just cause,” or being more “right than your adversary’s cause?” These, and even the more pragmatic considerations of “last resort,” “proportionality,” and “a reasonable hope of success,” are left to the various actors to define for themselves with typically self-serving and self-justifying results.


The presuppositions are performing the Mandate of G_d as recognised by the Congregation, faced with the existential threat of complete and utter annihilation. But Just War Theory came at the time the Church went into the Great Schism and further divided up from there. So that did for the Divine Mandate. Then there was the dilution of the ideal of Israel (D. Goldman goes on at length about this) where the clans, tribes and nations placed themselves as revived Israelites under the staff of Moses, elevated their petty grievances, jealousies, resentments and lust for power to biblical proportions and Clausewitz would recognise this. I would say that Just War Theory fit a time, place and human psychology that vanished from the modern world...... and it is this, not that JWT is evil........

kmich wrote:Then once they begin, wars unleash forces that are uncontrolled and unpredictable obscuring moral considerations with what Clausewitz termed as the “fog of war” within the immediate passions and exigencies of the muddled charnel house of the battlefield. The chaos and violence of wars are hardly conducive to the considered reflections of an Augustine or an Aquinas.


The early church fathers saw Earth as middle ground between Heaven and Hell and a man can achieve the threshold of either, if he was bent on it. I'm sure they had a far darker assessment of men than what modern thinkers would assume. Born in original sin, it was difficult for archaic man not to strike the face whose mouth utters insult against him, but dissolves in mindless ecstasy cutting an ear off a fallen enemy or disemboweling a mother of her unbirthed child. Easy, peasy.... men are BAD and the work of salvation is to overcome the bad and replace it with Holy Spirit-induced good instead......

kmich wrote:War, even when necessary, can never be made moral. Innocence is devilishly hard to clarify in war, and non-combatants, families, and children are killed, damaged, and maimed in war as a routine matter of course, today accompanied by the euphemism of “collateral damage.” It is morally incoherent to proclaim the “sanctity of life” while celebrating the just, heroic nature of the state’s military exercises in slaughtering fellow human beings and displacing their lives. While I am not a pacifist and realize war is sometimes necessary, war always condemns human kind with civilization’s most profound spiritual and ethical failings. There really is no way out of that.


War can't be made moral and can't be fought for morality, but occurs when adversaries cannot speak or negotiate with each other to the point where they become enemies. The point of war is..... listen to me, I can hurt you really badly if I must. More importantly, stop this trajectory and let's talk..... address my grievances and I will listen to yours and maybe we can come to a consensus, a compromise, set our defining rules and boundaries so we can live by each other and have a relatively good time of it..... y'know?.....;>.......
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Re: On War

Postby Nonc Hilaire » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:29 am

Many feel that just war theory is proof that a just war is impossible.
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Re: On War

Postby kmich » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:25 am

Miss_Faucie_Fishtits wrote:The presuppositions are performing the Mandate of G_d as recognised by the Congregation, faced with the existential threat of complete and utter annihilation. But Just War Theory came at the time the Church went into the Great Schism and further divided up from there. So that did for the Divine Mandate. Then there was the dilution of the ideal of Israel (D. Goldman goes on at length about this) where the clans, tribes and nations placed themselves as revived Israelites under the staff of Moses, elevated their petty grievances, jealousies, resentments and lust for power to biblical proportions and Clausewitz would recognise this. I would say that Just War Theory fit a time, place and human psychology that vanished from the modern world...... and it is this, not that JWT is evil........

“Existential” challenges are about survival of a people, a regime, or a leader and not the moral decency or integrity required by our religious traditions. Bashar al Assad has responded to the existential challenges to his regime and life by barrel bombing civilian neighborhoods held by rebels. I have seen enough of war and civil strife, particularly the wreckage, to know that while war greatly heightens human, existential realities and that is part of its exhilaration for many, it never really adequately answers them, and is certainly not the work of the God I know. Just war theory did not begin with the Great Schism of 1054, but began centuries earlier in the writing of St. Augustine in the 4th century, and was not systematized until Aquinas wrote Summa Theologica in the 13th.

While some of the very early church fathers had pacifist sympathies (Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Cyprian of Carthage), most of the protests early Christians had with serving the Roman army revolved around the pagan idolatrous army religion rather than the issues of killing and inflicting violence in the service of the empire. By the early 4th century when Constantine, according to tradition, had his vision of the cross accompanied by the phrase “in Hoc Signo Vinces” at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and subsequently began the transition of Christianity becoming the imperial religion, the protests around Christian army service for the empire were largely resolved. Remaining barriers for Christian military service around pagan idolatry lost relevance. Later in the 4th century, Augustine of Hippo recognized that the demands of moral life are so thoroughly interwoven with social life that the individual cannot be separated from citizenship. Yes, religions are shaped by the political demands of their time, and, along with that, their thinkers and leaders usually find ways to avoid any moral concerns for war presented by their religious traditions in order to adapt to the social and political realities of their times. Augustine did this effectively by essentially becoming fatalistic and resigned to war. He simply proposed that war is a part of the human experience that God Himself has ordained or permitted. For Augustine, war arises from and stands as a clear manifestation of, the nature of fallen man.

The “modern word” is not any more evil than the ancient or medieval ones in its cruelties and rationalizations, and, in many ways, these earlier eras were far more violent, cunning, and brutal, it is just that the modern world has greater technical capacity to kill and to remain insular from the consequences. I remember once hearing a lecture by Simon Wiesenthal who said that if the medieval inquisition had the industrial and administrative powers of the Nazis, there would not have been a Jew left in Europe. As Clausewitz wrote, wars are ultimately governed by the furthering of perceived, immediate political interests. Residual moral conflicts are ameliorated by ends over means justifications (i.e. deliberately carpet bombing and dropping nuclear weapons to kill a half million Japanese civilians was necessary to the immediate necessity of shortening WWII and sparing American lives). War may sometimes be the only option we are aware of and yet it is an unmistakable evil. In spite of our dilemmas presented by our immediate need for violent action in war, it is best to honestly face the profound moral, spiritual, and political failures that always accompany that. Making moral excuses or offering passive resignation to the inevitability of the evils of war whether through JWT or other excuses is, IMHO, the devil’s work in any age.

Miss_Faucie_Fishtits wrote:The early church fathers saw Earth as middle ground between Heaven and Hell and a man can achieve the threshold of either, if he was bent on it. I'm sure they had a far darker assessment of men than what modern thinkers would assume. Born in original sin, it was difficult for archaic man not to strike the face whose mouth utters insult against him, but dissolves in mindless ecstasy cutting an ear off a fallen enemy or disemboweling a mother of her unbirthed child. Easy, peasy.... men are BAD and the work of salvation is to overcome the bad and replace it with Holy Spirit-induced good instead......

True, but there was a developing tendency for our fallen "bad" natures to be a matter of resignation, where only the powers of the Church could provide salvation as long as one had the required loyalty to the preeminence and divine wisdom of that powerful institution. After all, the First Crusaders did not have to worry about their slaughter of thousands of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in 1099 Sack of Jerusalem since a Papal Bull had granted indulgences in advance to those who took part in these violent expeditions. I am reminded of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor in the Brothers Karamazov, where a lowly Christ figure is condemned by the Inquisitor for providing men freedom that they would be unable to handle without being provisioned with the necessities of bread, security, and reassuring indisputable demonstrations of His Godliness, which has now been left as a burden for Church authorities and their allies to shoulder these for the benefit of fallen souls. For Dostoevsky, yes, man is fallen, but he has been given an open, unforced choice to resign to his fallen nature or to follow the hard path of the Cross through repentance, redemption, and forgiveness. No church or authority can protect us from that difficult, critical choice, (Dostoevsky was hardly any acolyte for the Roman Church)

Miss_Faucie_Fishtits wrote:War can't be made moral and can't be fought for morality, but occurs when adversaries cannot speak or negotiate with each other to the point where they become enemies. The point of war is..... listen to me, I can hurt you really badly if I must. More importantly, stop this trajectory and let's talk..... address my grievances and I will listen to yours and maybe we can come to a consensus, a compromise, set our defining rules and boundaries so we can live by each other and have a relatively good time of it..... y'know?.....;>.......

Yes, of course, that is always our best hope. Clausewitz has often been quoted as defining war as “the continuation of policy by other means,” when he actually meant the continuation of policy in addition to other means (mit Einmischung anderer Mitteln). He never intended wars to be to the exclusion of diplomatic efforts you mentioned. The most expeditious way of ending the conflict is ultimately in the interests of all involved.

Thank you, FF, for your thoughtful responses on a thorny topic, :)
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Re: On War

Postby NapLajoieonSteroids » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:47 pm

As G.E.M Anscombe notes:

Since there are always thieves and frauds and men who commit violent attacks on their neighbours and murderers,and since without law backed by adequate force there are usually gangs of bandits; and since there are in most places laws administered by people who command violence to enforce the laws against law-breakers; the question arises:what is a just attitude to this exercise of violent coercive power on the part of rulers and their subordinate officers?Two attitudes are possible: one, that the world is an absolute jungle and that the exercise of coercive power by rulers is only a manifestation of this; and the other, that it is both necessary and right that there should be this exercise of power, that through it the world is much less of a jungle than it could possibly be without it, so that one should in principle be glad of the existence of such power, and only take exception to its unjust exercise.It is so clear that the world is less of a jungle because of rulers and laws, and that the exercise of coercive power is essential to these institutions as they are now--all this is so obvious, that probably only Tennysonian conceptions of progress enable people who do not wish to separate themselves from the world to think that nevertheless such violence is objectionable, that some day, in this present dispensation, we shall do without it, and that the pacifist is the man who sees and tries to follow the ideal course, which future civilization must one day pursue. It is an illusion, which would be fantastic if it were not so familiar.In a peaceful and law abiding country such as England, it may not be immediately obvious that the rulers need to command violence to the point of fighting to the death those that would oppose it; but brief reflection shows that this is so. For those who oppose the force that backs law will not always stop short of fighting to the death and cannot always be put down short of fighting to the death.Then only if it is in itself evil violently to coerce resistant wills, can the exercise of coercive power by rulers be bad as such. Against such a conception, if it were true, the necessity and advantage of the exercise of such power would indeed be a useless plea. But that conception is one that makes no sense unless it is accompanied by a theory of withdrawal from the world as man's only salvation; and it is in any case a false one. We are taught that God retains the evil will of the devil within limits by violence: we are not given a picture of God permitting to the devil all that he is capable of. There is current a conception of Christianity as having revealed that the defeat of evil must always be by pure love without coercion; this at least is shown to be false by the foregoing consideration. And without the alleged revelation there could be no reason to believe such a thing.To think that society's coercive authority is evil is akin to thinking the flesh evil and family life evil. These things belong to the present constitution of mankind; and if the exercise of coercive power is a manifestation of evil, and not the just means of restraining it, then human nature is totally depraved in a manner never taught by Christianity. For society is essential to human good; and society without coercive power is generally impossible.

The same authority which puts down internal dissension, which promulgates laws and restrains those who break them if it can, must equally oppose external enemies, These do not merely comprise those who attack the borders of the people ruled by the authority; but also, for example, pirates and desert bandits, and, generally, those beyond the confines of the country ruled whose activities are viciously harmful to it, The Romans, once their rule in Gaul was established, were eminently justified in attacking Britain, where were nurtured the Druids whose pupils infested northern Gaul and whose practices struck the Romans themselves as "dira immanitas" , Further, there being such a thing as the common good of mankind, and visible criminality against it, how can we doubt the excellence of such a proceeding as that violent suppression of the man-stealing business1 which the British government took it into its head to engage in under Palmerston? The present-day conception of 'aggression', like so many strongly influential conceptions, is a bad one, Why must it be wrong to strike the first blow in a struggle? The only question is, who is in the right, if anyone is.

[NOTE—1. It is ignorance to suppose that it takes modern liberalism to hate and condemn this.
It is cursed and subject to the death penalty in the Mosaic law. Under that code, too, runaway slaves of other nations
had asylum in Israel.]

Here, however, human pride, malice and cruelty are so usual that it is true to say that wars have mostly been mere wickedness on both sides, Just as an individual will constantly think himself in the right, whatever he does, and yet there is still such a thing as being in the right, so nations will constantly wrongly think themselves to be in the right - and yet there is still such a thing as their being in the right. Palmerston doubtless had no doubts in prosecuting the opium war against China, which was diabolical; just as he exulted in putting down the slavers. But there is no question
but that he was a monster in the one thing, and a just man in the other. The probability is that warfare is injustice, that a life of military service is a bad life "militia or rather malitia", as St
Anselm called it. This probability is greater than the probability (which also exists) that membership of a police force will involve malice, because of the character of warfare: the extraordinary occasions it offers for viciously unjust proceedings on the part of military commanders and warring governments, which at the time attract praise and not
blame from their people. It is equally the case that the life of a ruler is usually a vicious life: but that does not show that ruling is as such a vicious activity.


----

And on the malignant effects of pacifism:

Now pacifism teaches people to make no distinction between the shedding of innocent blood and the shedding of any human blood. And in this way pacifism has corrupted enormous numbers of people who will not act according to its tenets. They become convinced that a number of things are wicked which are not; hence seeing no way of avoiding wickedness, they set no limits to it. How endlessly pacifists argue that all war must be a outrance! that those who wage war must go as far as technological advance permits in the destruction of the enemy’s people. As if the Napoleonic wars were perforce fuller of massacres than the French war of Henry V of England. It is not true: the reverse took place. Nor is technological advance particularly relevant; it is mere squeamishness that deters people who would consent to area bombing from the enormous massacres by hand that used once to be committed….Pacifism and the respect for pacifism is not the only thing that has led to a universal forgetfulness of the law against killing the innocent; but it has had a share in it.


Anscombe's War and Murder
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Re: On War

Postby Mr. Perfect » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:13 pm

Miss_Faucie_Fishtits wrote:I'll review this in depth later, have to go to work now, but to add to the conversation Ken Collins explains Just War theology:

http://www.kencollins.com/explanations/why-13.htm

Just War theology in practise:


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Re: On War

Postby Parodite » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:43 am

Human social and anti-social behaviors like war are complex and the causes compound. But the main denominators seem to be: competition and co-operation. Win-lose and win-win. When you are to lose in a win-lose situation, it may help to co-operate and create a win-win with others who would otherwise lose as well. Territorial drives, to conquer and defend.

In the messianic utopia of co-operation-without-competition alias brotherhood of man, the enemies have to be defeated first. From heretics, to all kinds of otherly evil-doers.. to Evil in general and in the Abstract. It runs pretty deep. The need to WIN.

Moral values are winning strategies. Depending on context and perspective they vary. In my student years I saved a chicken from autopsy class and she lived many years as a domesticated pet, always outdoors and sitting in the window observing us when the sound of food and cookies reached her ears. Her most successful trick was playing dead when a dog got her. It happened twice and the strategy was effective. Maybe she would rationalize it afterwards if she had the frontal lobe... as a successful act of non-violence, of turning the other cheek. :) Likewise, dying on a cross would make no sense if not a Big Win was intended... somewhere along the line.

It seems to me win-lose wars are almost inevitable for as long as they pay off. Mostly thanks to WMD they become too costly and the chance of a lose-lose war is real. This keeps the peace. The more win-win co-operation pays off because of economic interdependencies and moving in and out of each others territories as guests in stead of soldiers... the win-lose killing fields lose their market value steadily over time.

Those who don't mind a lose-lose war on earth because they believe they get the rewards in heaven with fruity virgins and what not have some success... but this strategy can never win wholesale because on the biological level we all want to live, avoid pain and death with a peaceful life instead. It is therefor paramount to battle the after-life "winners" on the level of ideas with maximum ridicule, exposing them as shameful losers every time they blow themselves up and sending many others prematurely back to nothingness.
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Re: On War

Postby Parodite » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:31 pm

Wow. From JBPs video channel where he talks with Howard Bloom:



To HBs book The Lucifer Principle:



Listened to the first 45 minutes and it is awesome. Makes you feel you look war right into the face for the first time standing in the killing fields of history, even though in the cool chambers of intellectual reflection you already knew it to be there.
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Re: On War

Postby kmich » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:09 am

Parodite wrote:Human social and anti-social behaviors like war are complex and the causes compound. But the main denominators seem to be: competition and co-operation. Win-lose and win-win. When you are to lose in a win-lose situation, it may help to co-operate and create a win-win with others who would otherwise lose as well. Territorial drives, to conquer and defend.

In the messianic utopia of co-operation-without-competition alias brotherhood of man, the enemies have to be defeated first. From heretics, to all kinds of otherly evil-doers.. to Evil in general and in the Abstract. It runs pretty deep. The need to WIN.

Moral values are winning strategies. Depending on context and perspective they vary. In my student years I saved a chicken from autopsy class and she lived many years as a domesticated pet, always outdoors and sitting in the window observing us when the sound of food and cookies reached her ears. Her most successful trick was playing dead when a dog got her. It happened twice and the strategy was effective. Maybe she would rationalize it afterwards if she had the frontal lobe... as a successful act of non-violence, of turning the other cheek. :) Likewise, dying on a cross would make no sense if not a Big Win was intended... somewhere along the line.

It seems to me win-lose wars are almost inevitable for as long as they pay off. Mostly thanks to WMD they become too costly and the chance of a lose-lose war is real. This keeps the peace. The more win-win co-operation pays off because of economic interdependencies and moving in and out of each others territories as guests in stead of soldiers... the win-lose killing fields lose their market value steadily over time.

Those who don't mind a lose-lose war on earth because they believe they get the rewards in heaven with fruity virgins and what not have some success... but this strategy can never win wholesale because on the biological level we all want to live, avoid pain and death with a peaceful life instead. It is therefor paramount to battle the after-life "winners" on the level of ideas with maximum ridicule, exposing them as shameful losers every time they blow themselves up and sending many others prematurely back to nothingness.


In discussing game theory issues when it comes to war, it is important to realize the win-loss dynamic varies depending upon the players involved. Using Clausewitz’s model, there are three primary players in war, the nation state, the military, and the people. In the model, the military is meant to be subordinate to the political leaders of the nation state; who has the task of designing clear, strategic objectives that help fulfill defined national, political interests. The function of the military is to employ tactics to defeat the enemy to help fulfill the objective political leaders formulate, the battlefield being a zero sum game, where the more one side wins, the more the other side loses, and the military objective is total defeat of the enemy.

However, for the political leaders, defeat and subjugation of the enemy, while necessary to further policies, is not sufficient, by itself, to secure the peace and security in order to fulfill their longer term political objectives. One example being the complete military capitulation of the powers of the Triple Alliance to those of the Triple Entente being failed to be followed by viable political policies and initiatives to secure peace and stability in Europe. In the 2003 Iraq war, the Iraq army was completely defeated by the “coalition of the willing,” but follow up policies simply had not been considered by the political leadership of the victors, and ended up, instead, being managed with impromptu recklessness and incompetence by an assortment of occupation civilian and military officials. Peace requires supporting viable political leadership and civil institutions supported by the people, and the failure of Iraq occupation to effectively manage that challenge may mean Iraq will struggle with periods of civil unrest and disunity for the foreseeable future.

While the army must be totally the defeated, the political leadership and the people who lost the war must be allowed to win somehow in the political and social sense and to recover some sense of dignity and national identity. Humiliating the vanquished, which will likely appeal to vengeful, undisciplined passions, will only further resistance and blow-back, which will require further applications of force and the chaos that will create, requiring further applications of violence, and on and on. One must pursue win – lose in war, but the victors must pursue win – win in securing the peace. This requires working with available, indigenous political traditions and institutions that can gain popular support (i.e. Douglas MacArthur protecting the Emperor Hirohito in the occupation of Japan being one example of how this can be done as well as the Romans promoting trade, security, permitting (admittedly pliant) local leadership, as well as the preservation of local traditions and institutions in exchange for fealty to Rome to further their empire).

The fulcrum of Clausewitz’s managing of war is the reasoned policies of the state, and, if political leaders fail to have well-reasoned strategies, objectives and assessment of means, military institutions and the passions of the people with their assorted, opportunistic and aspiring champions, will be likely to dominate political life. The function of the military is to either win or lose in their responding to evolving conditions of war, and that cannot lead to peace alone, but if left to its own functions with failed and incompetent poltical leaders (i.e. the decrepit monarchies of WW1), to endless conflict that can only be moderated by the relative support, distance, or fatigue of the population.
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Re: On War

Postby Parodite » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:17 am

A reasonable way of looking at it, to go from win-lose to a win-win after a war preferably. The reality of most wars however has been wholesale slaughter, total destruction followed by a bottom-up rebuilding of the defeated. Either by taking over the territory of the defeated and adding it to empire, or retreat and start a new relationship with the recoverering defeated hoping it becomes a win-win relationship, putting effort into that.

My beef with the current wars in which the West is involved is that the decisions made are not centered around the vulnerable and innocent civilian victims aiming to protect or save them. Empathy and outrage about the atrocities and collateral bloodshed are absent. All is considered and looked at through the gaze of the psychopath who just calculates geo-political consequences of the power game. The urgency is not immediate because of the individual civilians trapped in cities and who are blown to peaces but for the abstract landscape of assumed futures that "concern" us.
Outside, away from the noise, grows a flower.
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Re: On War

Postby kmich » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:58 pm

Parodite wrote:A reasonable way of looking at it, to go from win-lose to a win-win after a war preferably. The reality of most wars however has been wholesale slaughter, total destruction followed by a bottom-up rebuilding of the defeated. Either by taking over the territory of the defeated and adding it to empire, or retreat and start a new relationship with the recoverering defeated hoping it becomes a win-win relationship, putting effort into that.

My beef with the current wars in which the West is involved is that the decisions made are not centered around the vulnerable and innocent civilian victims aiming to protect or save them. Empathy and outrage about the atrocities and collateral bloodshed are absent. All is considered and looked at through the gaze of the psychopath who just calculates geo-political consequences of the power game. The urgency is not immediate because of the individual civilians trapped in cities and who are blown to peaces but for the abstract landscape of assumed futures that "concern" us.

Yes.

While philosophers and politicians frequently extol the importance of the distinction between the innocent non-combatants and the enemy in war, war in its execution rarely reveals such distinctions. Innocent civilians are harmed either through direct military action or indirectly through deprivations of food, water and sanitation wrought by the destruction of infrastructure, blockades, sanctions, etc. In destroying the enemy, not only are civilians killed in “collateral damage,” but military action targets the food and infrastructure both the enemy and the civilian population depend upon in order to weaken the enemy’s logistical supports and their “will” to continue fighting.

That is war, and certainly what I have seen the results of. It cannot be made humane by fulfilling refined distinctions around abstractions of “innocence.” The only way war can become humane is through its conclusion, and that requires, clear, defined, objectives to be attained. When national leadership is incompetent, ignorant, and mercurial, our wars have can no strategic coherence of objectives in our national interest, and wars simply perpetuate themselves, solving one enemy problem while creating others for military leaders to manage in an endless “whack a mole” exercise perpetuating the insecurity, hardship, and suffering of all in the afflicted societies.
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Re: On War

Postby kmich » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:36 am

On a more personal note, war is an odd juxtaposition of aspirations. My father, who fought with the Red Army in the 1st Belorussian Front in WW2, would refuse to tell me about the many decorations my younger sister found in a box hidden in our attic, including his Order of the Patriotic War, 1st Class. When I asked him about the war and his medals, he would always tell me that all he cared about was staying alive just one more day, nothing else, he just did what he needed to do to survive, and medals were all nothing but “бред сивой кобылы” (horseshit). When I was seeking what to do in the service during the Vietnam War, he was adamant, “don’t join the army, you live and die like a dog.” I suppose that was his experience.

In spite of his dark, uninspiring, laconic assessment of his army service, he would regularly sing Red Army patriotic songs during family gatherings with great fervor, partly fueled by one too many shots of vodka. There would be both fire and tears in his eyes, and I could sense the presence of a transformation from a humble, hard working American plumber to a fierce Red Army warrior. Strange how war for its survivors can be so grim and remote to their war experiences in their everyday lives yet somehow draw on these as an existential inspiration to shape the men they have become. I have been thinking about my father a lot lately. One of his favorite songs:

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