The New Core as Loyalty Militias

Shelby Steel’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal, “Obama is right on Iran: Talking with Tehran may help us wage the wars we need to fight” is so-so. A good conceptualization is muddied by tired talk of moral authority. A great start is swamped by a lousy finish.

The same is not true of Tom’s summary of the (best of the) article, which is brilliant:

In my strategic vernacular, then, here’s the key difference between the Old Core and the New Core WRT the long war against radical extremism: despite the wobbly types in Europe, the long war is a war of discipline for the Old Core. We enjoy the current world order and dealing with the radical jihadists is simply a matter of preserving our advantages. Over time, globalization makes the problem go away in the variety of ways I’ve long described here (e.g., various reformations, demographics, moving beyond oil).

In contrast, for the New Core and for Seam States in general (like Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia), the long war IS a war of survival, just as it is for the jihadists themselves, doomed as they are.

This is why the West, and the U.S. in particular, will never wage—and should never wage—an all-out or total war, nor should we put America on a war footing. It’s unnecessary and unsustainable and unwise. So all that gibberish about “America’s getting the war it deserves” is all wrong. America is getting the war that’s appropriate for the risks entailed.

Just as “loyalty militias” make natural allies in a sub-national sense (we need someone who will provide security and kill our enemies — loyalty militias exist to do just that), the New care is comprised of “loyalty countries” — states that want the same basic goals as we do, but are more willing to kill to get there.

Allying with the New Core is as much part of our effort to shrink the Gap as is building a Military-Industrial-Complex for nation building: it makes the “correct” answer of what to do (build the Sysadmin! support the New Core!) a natural given rather than a policy decision that has to be made every time.

Human Genetic Variation is Science’s Breakthrough of the Year!

Pennisi, E. (2007). Breakthrough of the year: Human genetic variation. Science, 318(5858), 1842-1843, available online: (from John Hawks).

We have gone from using genes to contrast us with the chimpanzees, to using genes to contrast us with each other:

The unveiling of the human genome almost 7 years ago cast the first faint light on our complete genetic makeup. Since then, each new genome sequenced and each new individual studied has illuminated our genomic landscape in ever more detail. In 2007, researchers came to appreciate the extent to which our genomes differ from person to person and the implications of this variation for deciphering the genetics of complex diseases and personal traits.

Less than a year ago, the big news was triangulating variation between us and our primate cousins to get a better handle on genetic changes along the evolutionary tree that led to humans. Now, we have moved from asking what in our DNA makes us human to striving to know what in my DNA makes me me.

Techniques that scan for hundreds of thousands of genetic differences at once are linking particular variations to particular traits and diseases in ways not possible before. Efforts to catalog and assess the effects of insertions and deletions in our DNA are showing that these changes are more common than expected and play important roles in how our genomes work–or don’t work. By looking at variations in genes for hair and skin color and in the “speech” gene, we have also gained a better sense of how we are similar to and different from Neandertals.

In one study, geneticists discovered 3600 so-called copy number variants among 95 individuals studied. Quite a few overlapped genes, including some implicated in our individuality–blood type, smell, hearing, taste, and metabolism, for example. Individual genomes differed in size by as many as 9 million bases. This fall, another group performed an extensive analysis using a technique, called paired-end mapping, that can quickly uncover even smaller structural variations.

These differences matter. One survey concluded that in some populations almost 20% of differences in gene activity are due to copy-number variants; SNPs account for the rest. People with high-starch diets–such as in Japan–have extra copies of a gene for a starch-digesting protein compared with members of hunting-gathering societies. By scanning the genomes of autistic and healthy children and their parents for copy-number variation, other geneticists have found that newly appeared DNA alterations pose a risk for autism.

Relatedly: does genetics make Karl Popper obsolete? (Hat-tip to gnxp.)