Wednesday, March 22, 2006

War in the Extranational Age

The Global War on Terror is not just a war against Usama bin Laden, al-Qa'ida, or anyone else. It's a war against an idea: the idea that one may use the threat of sabotage and fear against civilian targets to achieve a political advantage. That idea has no nation to call its own; the tools needed to fight it will at times have to ignore national boundaries and at others insist that those boundaries be observed.

Likewise, the Global War on Terror is not simply about 9/11. To say that it is would imply that the war is about petty vengeance, which would not justify the massive effort expended even thus far. It also is not merely about bringing those responsible to justice. It is for nothing less than survival, and yet it is for more than that. The Global War on Terror is an attempt to structure the shifting framework of geopolitics in a way that will allow civilization on our planet to continue.

The rise of satellite communications, the Internet, and the global economy are making changes that are fundamental to civilization. Just as city-states replaced tribes and clans, and nations replaced city-states, a new extranationalism has begun. People of all kinds, enabled by rapid international communication, are forming groups based on shared interests rather than geography or simple ethnicity.

We must recognize that across the world, loyalty to a nation is being overshadowed by loyalty to ideologies, and that the rapid growth of extranational movements may soon cause their power to rival that of geography-based government. At the same time, government is becoming more centralized and planetary. The centralization may include the intermediate step of continental coalitions, but absent some reversal in the march of technology, a single world government looks inevitable. The future appears to be a constant battle between geographical and special interest loyalties for the hearts and minds of the masses.

The world over, mobs enraged alternatively by religious and political demagogues storm the streets, demanding their way. Jihadist, socialists, and affectist posers scream and destroy in an attempt to gain by force of tantrum what they cannot by force of reason attain. Like petulant, undisciplined children demanding yet another piece of candy, these children in adult clothing surge forth insisting on their way.

Their movements take on a will that is distinct from the reason possessed by individuals, for that is the nature of mobs. Once set in motion, it will not alter its beliefs unless individuals, one by one, separate themselves from it by establishing their own identity or by identifying with another movement.

The jihadist movement will not stop until it encompasses the world. If given what it wants now, it will not be satisfied but will want more. It will kill us, our children, our friends, their children, and anyone else who will not merely tolerate but adopt its narrow religious viewpoint and become one with it. It enforces on its adherents the belief that it is not merely their right, but their sacred duty to rid the world of anyone and anything that opposes its ideology.

And the jidadist movement will, by definition, always believe that. The world is a real place, not the peaceful country herb garden in which some of us would like to spend our days, admiring each other's boldness in assigning ourselves blame. On our planet, men can convince themselves of all manner of things which seem right, but in the end lead to destruction.

The socialist movement, also, will not stop until it rules the world. If we give it what it wants now, it will not be satisfied but will want more. It does not seek necessarily to kill, but merely to enslave us, our children, our friends, their children, and anyone else. The economic Ponzi scheme that is socialism requires it.

And in that, we are not the same as they are. We do not wish to force them to accept our beliefs, except our ideal of tolerance. We do not ask that they change even their beliefs, only their actions. As Mr. Bush said, "America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish. We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves -- safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life."

Given the foregoing as backdrop, the Global War on Terror can be seen as a first battle between nations and extranational interest groups. An analogous, but hopefully less violent conflict is looming between multinational (ie, extranational) corporations, labor movements, and the nation-states that serve respectively as customers and a source of members for them. Other movements, including environmentalism and more traditional ideologies such as political ideologies and religions will also play a role in weaving the fabric of future geopolitics as rapid communication continues to negate geography's advantage.

So how does one fight an enemy that has no physical face? How does one do battle with an idea? The method chosen by U.S. President George W. Bush is to use the ephemeral nature of the enemy against it. Since the members have to live somewhere, we use our common bond with the nation-state in which they reside as leverage. An extranational movement may not be rational, but a nation is more likely to be, at least by comparison. In that regard, our method of battling terror is not simply a case of seeing a nail because all we have is a hammer.

As Wikipedia puts it in comparing the American stance in the Cold War with the Bush policy on terrorism, "the previous policy of deterrence assumes that a potential enemy is a coherent and rational state that would not launch an attack that would likely result in its own destruction...."

The tenets of the Bush Doctrine:
  • There is no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them
  • The U.S. will engage in preemptive warfare to prevent terrorist attacks
  • The U.S. will attempt to form alliances to fight terror, but will act unilaterally to defend its interests
  • The U.S. will attempt to keep its military power sufficient to achieve these ends
Those who support terrorists with financing, technology, or in similar ways are complicit in their crimes. They must be stopped.

We hope that it isn't necessary to wipe out our enemies. We hope that it's only necessary to show them that terror has consequences, and that those consequences are a net negative for their cause. While ultimately the growth of rational and positive ideologies in extranational groups will be more effective, it is suicide not to fight the irrational and negative with whatever tools are available.

The time-honored principle in international relations is to show and tell a nation what it can and cannot do, or rather what it can expect if it tries, and then let its internal politics adjust. It can take decades, as with Germany in the past century.

Enforced national self interest is the model by which the world has operated, by and large, since before our nation was founded. The terrorist interest groups strain that model; in a transcendant stroke of genius, the Bush Doctrine brings it to bear.


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HinzSight Team said...

The jihadist movement will not stop until it encompasses the world. If given what it wants now, it will not be satisfied but will want more. It will kill us, our children, our friends, their children, and anyone else who will not merely tolerate but adopt its narrow religious viewpoint and become one with it.

This is the problem with the appeasement crowd. Too many of our citizens have come to see war in the Clinton way, lob a few missiles, declare the problem solved, and return to their cocoon. Unfortunately the world hasn't learned that all problems are solved in the time it takes to watch a 60 minute tv program.

The GWOT will be long and costly, and will be costlier still if our next president does not follow through on the groundwork laid out by GWB!

Anonymous said...

The natural conclusion to a war of beliefs has yet to be seen.

There is still much sourcery in the world and fear of it in peoples deep memory.

Read all you can on the theory of Memetics to more fully understand the forces at work.