April 13th, 2006


State Diagram of the War

kishiriadgr commented "Until the invasion of Iraq, that country was not a hotbed of terrorism." in an earlier post and I'm trying to explain why I think that's totally irrelevant. I don't see the decision to invade Iraq as something like a criminal trial where the defendant is punished purely for his own actions. The strategy for a war has to be based on finding a way to end it with a better peace than we started with.

I'll try explaining with a state diagram (readers familiar with them may skip ahead to the picture). An object (such as a switch, or elevator, or country, or planet) is in a "state", and can switch to other states depending on which state it's in now. A light switch can always go between "on" and "off". An elevator needs to go through the "stopped, door closed" state between "moving" or "door open." Here's some more info on how they work. So a simple state diagram for America would show it moving between "war" and "peace" as states. Here's a slightly more complex one to illustrate how I think we have to view the war:

(The arrows show the possible changes from one state to another. The white ones are unstable. We'll keep changing among the white ones until we get to a grey end state, at which point the war will be over)

Before 9/11 we considered terrorism to be an Acceptable Level of Violence. Nothing that justified changing how we dealt with the world at home or abroad. But Moore's Law of Mad Scientists keeps working, so it gets easier to cause a major attack every year. The "acceptable level of violence" state isn't stable and we have to move to another, or someone will move us against our will.

There are several different stable end states ways the war can end. Ideally we'd move into a world where Arab nations are free and healthy enough to share the planet with (Peaceful, Democratic Neighbors). What various people are worrying about, including me, is ending the war by killing Arabs by the tens of millions (Arabia Delenda Est). This would still be preferable to seeing sharia law imposed on America (Global Caliphate). The worst case is a terror attack, or series of them, which would destroy the American people, followed by indiscriminate revenge (Graveyard World).

So what intermediate states will get us to a good end state instead of a bad one? Right now we're in Gunpoint Democracy, making Iraq a test case for turning Arabs into good neighbors. If we decide that democracy can't work in the MidEast and take over running things ourselves we get American Empire. Or we can say heck with it and go home. Fortress America relies on tight controls of borders and trade to stay safe. It'd also have ruthless surveillance of our own people and nasty punitive expeditions to retaliate for any attacks that do get through. That's if we keep the will to fight. Lose that and we're in Danegeld, probably not by making cash payments but enforcing blasphemy laws and allowing local sharia zones.

There's some key assumptions going into this:
1. There isn't enough time to let the MidEast evolve into a democracy on its own before somebody cooks up a megadeath attack.
2. America doesn't have the willpower to maintain an empire.
3. Staying on the offensive will keep terrorists from launching a major attack against the US.
4. Islamofascism is powerful and agressive enough that we can't coexist with it.

I favor Gunpoint Democracy as the option that gives us the best chance of getting the best outcome, and gets us as far as possible from the worst. Given that strategy we've got to start somewhere. Iraq (for many good reasons) was it.
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Browncoat party

Guest Post: Risks

I received this in email from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

I’ve been reading your posts, and particularly your recent discussion on a State Diagram of the War

Personally, "Arabia Delenda Est" sounds good to me. I'm really afraid that if we don't move towards it QUICK our descendents will be - what was the term? dhimmis at best and corpses more likely.

I understand that you feel that in a few years we'll have a good idea of how the experiment in Iraq will come out, and then it may be time to re-evaluate the choices. I'd like to get you to think about it more now.

I'm terrified by the whole subject. I feel like you and other bloggers are all talking about theories and debating issues and wanting to avoid "getting your souls sticky" and in the meantime the last free time for westerners is blowing away, and I'm so afraid that very soon it will be too late for the future of my kids.

I don't know if Iraq was going to be a problem or not, I don't care really, Islam is a problem, and I wish they'd just gone after all of them. Going after the Saudis would be good. I am afraid that it's all going to be so limited and people trying to be reasonable and you can't be reasonable with the Islamicists.

I know you think the Gunpoint Democracy option may work. I hear you say that a lot. (I'd really like it to work myself.) Given what an incredibly high set of stakes there are, I wish you'd think more on "what if it won't".

I've seen you say that you want to see what the underlying assumptions are. Let me point out one that I am seeing.

There seems to be an underlying assumption of "It will be just as easy to do Arabia Delenda Est later, as a backup to Gunpoint Democracy, as it would be to do Arabia Delenda Est now. So we'll try Gunpoint Democracy first." I am thinking that Arabia Delenda Est will get harder and have a lower chance of success as time passes and the Islamicists embed themselves in other countries and gain more and more control, as they are doing in Europe. It may be that if Arabia Delenda Est isn't picked up soon, it may vanish as an end state, leaving, I fear, Global Caliphate far more likely.

This is a major risk of trying Gunpoint Democracy.

I'm not saying I'm fond of any of this. Only I want me and mine to survive. Kipling, if you will -

Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Our contentions must be our children - all of our children, and all of theirs. They have declared that they want to commit genocide on US, and are trying their best. This is a pretty clear message! Doubt and pity go right over the side, as the poet saw.