Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bring in the hamsters

Babble on.

There is no justice in the world. Anatole Kaletsky has a writing gig with The New York London Times (corrected with the help of The Tiger in comments), and yet clever hamsters continue to spin unemployed in their cages. The sad truth is that every single one of those hamsters could have come up with a more cogent analysis of American might than the simpleton mentioned above.

His conclusions on Yankee dominance?

America owes its global hegemony to the “soft power” that European politicians boast about but are unable to harness, mainly because of Europe’s incompetent economic management. Meanwhile, the “hard” military power beloved of braggart neoconservatives turns out to be largely an illusion — and one that America cannot sustain on its own.

American military might undoubtedly relies heavily upon American economic might. But if we're tracing causes back to their roots, it's just as valid to posit that American force is grounded in American ideals, since those first principles are what drive their government and economy in the first place.

If The Times would like, I'd be more than happy to accept payment for a similarly insightful opinion piece on how blue the sky is on a sunny day.

And while on the subject of the shockingly obvious, let's talk about the "myth" of American military power since that's what caused my chin to hit my chest in the first place. Our witless columnist makes a great effort to tear down the current U.S. military by comparing the first four years after Pearl Harbour with the first four years after 9/11.

And compare what has happened in the four years since 9/11 with the period that followed America’s previous declaration of war. In the four years after 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Western Europe and Asia were liberated, Hitler died in his bunker, the two most brutally efficient armies the world had ever seen were utterly defeated and the atom bomb was invented from scratch and dropped on Japan. In comparison with our parents’ generation, we surely live in a remarkably stable and safe world, in which politics, society and even technology move at an almost glacial pace.

Does The Times no longer employ editors? Is there no-one left at this ailing journalistic behemoth who can apply basic critical thought to a piece before publishing it?

It is obvious to all but the most willfully blind that the American military is the most powerful system of human violence ever to exist on this planet. The 'atom bomb' invented in the course of fighting WWII still exists. In fact, nuclear weapons are more powerful, more precise, and more numerous than in WWII. Even without nukes, plenty of other knockout punches lie in American arsenals: chemical weapons, biological agents, even massive stockpiles of conventional weapons that could make the bombings of Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, Berlin, Dresden and others look like a Girl Scout's marshmallow roast. And does any thinking observer believe America lacks the industrial capacity to sustain such a deluge of ordnance should it see fit to open the floodgates?

The key difference between the two eras - of World War, and of Terror - is not military might, it is the will to use it.

Never before in the history of human conflict has such a dominant national power been so reluctant to impose its will by use of force on other nations. The Soviets, the Nazis, the British, the French, the Spanish, the Caliphate, the Romans - all have been far more brutal than the Americans. This is not an imperial United States - not in any historical sense of the word.

Restraint is what governs the Americans, far more than might. If might governed them, the oil-rich Middle East would be a graveyard right now. A concerted biological weapons assault combined with a complete embargo (kill anything moving near a border) would eliminate most of the population. A series of chemical attacks to kill off any stragglers, and Arab society would be extinct. By not using nuclear weapons, they could even keep the land relatively safe for corporate workers to come in and work the barren oilfields.

It's a horrific, psychotic scenario, but it falls well within the realm of possibility. The civilized restraint of the United States is all that keeps it from happening. Anyone who believes nations historically comparable to the United States in power would have hesitated to implement such a plan need to read how the Romans dealt with Carthage. So much for a lack of social progress.

As far as technological progress is concerned, I would say that with restraint as their guiding principle, American technology has simply moved in less obvious directions than the development of a new super-destructive weapon. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from WWII would stand in slack-jawed awe of their current brothers-in-arms' ability to put firepower on target with pinpoint accuracy. Today's focus is on precision, not simply power. That focus has also pushed the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) and sattelite surveillance. It has spawned the growth of organizations like the NSA, a unique and unprecedented intelligence organ devoted to making sure the Americans have the ability to pinpoint problems rather than wiping whole populations from the globe.

For Kaletsky to suggest that turn-of-the-millenium America isn't the most militarily powerful nation in history is ludicrous. For him to pass this intellectually bankrupt idea off in the pages of The Times is a travesty. His publishers should hire a hamster and end the charade.

Babble off.


At 12:44 p.m., Blogger The Tiger said...

The Times of London, surely, not the New York Times. I get pissed off at the NYT enough times, goodness knows, but this isn't one of theirs.

At 1:54 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Mea culpa. Corrected, with thanks for pointing out the error.


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