The Great Game, in Not-So-Great Writing

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest: 2005 Results, compiled by the Department of English and Comparative Literature, San Jose State University, downloaded 30 July 2005, http://www2.sjsu.edu/depts/english/2005.htm (from Slashdot).

A post for the Hindoostan/British/Great Game loving folk over at Coming Anarchy

The Worst Writing of 2005

Ken Aclin (Shreveport, LA ):

India, which hangs like a wet washcloth from the towel rack of Asia, presented itself to Tex as he landed in Delhi (or was it Bombay?), as if it mattered because Tex finally had an idea to make his mark and fortune and that idea was a chain of steak houses to serve the millions and he wondered, as he deplaned down the steep, shiny, steel steps, why no one had thought of it before.

Eric Winter (Minneapolis, MN):

It was high noon in the jungles of South India when I began to recognize that if we didn’t find water for our emus soon, it wouldn’t be long before we would be traveling by foot; and with the guerilla warriors fast on our heals, I was starting to regret my decision to use poultry for transportation.

David Lindley (Sheffield, England)

Anyone with a less refined air of unabashed insouciance would not have been able to so easily slip through the security cordon, charm their way past the armed guards, breeze through the marbled reception area and blithely enter the inner sanctum of the UN Security Council and there successfully negotiate an end to all conflict in the Middle East, but that was the sort of man Nigel Simpkins was.

States Encouraging the Murder of Children

States opt for lifetime GPS tags on molesters,” by David Lieb, Associated Press, 30 July 2005, http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0730tracking30.html.

It’s not just the State of Minnesota anymore…

Florida, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma passed laws this year requiring lifetime electronic monitoring for some sex offenders, even if their sentences would normally have expired. Similar bills have been proposed in Congress and other states, including Alabama and North Dakota.

A new Oklahoma law also requires habitual sex offenders to wear GPS monitoring devices for the rest of their lives. Ohio’s budget funds lifetime GPS monitoring only for people classified as sexually violent predators.

Ideas this crazy have to be caused by hysterical cable news outlets…

Spurred by headlines of released sex offenders accused of murder, some states are mandating use of the Global Positioning System for tracking. Many lawmakers see electronic monitoring as a natural evolution of statutes that already require sex offenders to register their addresses with authorities.

A basic thought for my legislator friends in Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Alabama, and North Dakota:

The harsher you make a sentence, the more the criminal will try to avoid being caught

And what is the easiest, most obvious way for a pedophile to avoid being caught?

Kill the witness

In other words, if you want to minimize the number of victims like

After a registered sex offender was charged in March with killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, Florida legislators mandated tougher prison sentences for people who commit sex offenses against children and required lifetime GPS monitoring after serving time.

encouraging murder isn’t the wisest option. And lifetime sentences really, really discourage criminals from getting caught.

Around the blogosphere: PC540 talks sense, and Outside Report examines the issue in depth. Forbush calls some form of pedocide moderate. A wife and mother is heartbreakingly misguided. A compulsive hooker of the yarn variety notes Lunsford-family branding. Chatguard reports just the facts. Pace Forbush, Keith notes that there is muderous monsters deserve death. Omahastar suggests eternal damnation for a lesser offensive.

Response to Chirol on "2nd Generation Empires" – Part 1

Fifth Generation Warfare?,” by William Lind, from Defense and the National Interest, 3 February 2004, http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_2_03_04.htm (from Zen Pundit).

A History of Empires,” by Chirol, Coming Anarchy, 28 July 2005, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/07/28/a-history-of-empires/.

John Ikenberry’s Pissed,” by Daniel Nexon, The Duck of Minerva, 30 July 2005, http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/2005/07/john-ikenberrys-pissed.html.

Chirol from Coming Anarchy has begun an interesting discussion on 2nd Generation Empire. His extremely well written post deserves attention, and I hope I am bringing enough in this reply.

Without further wait, my thoughts for Chirol…

The answer is what I will call a “Second Generation Empire” or 2GE for short (to be fully defined later).

I look forward to your definition. Remember Lind‘s definition of “generation,” as a “dialectically qualitative shift” or that “absent a vast disparity in size, an army [empire?] from a previous generation cannot beat a force from the new generation”

realism, namely that there is no world order and that nations exist in the world in a state of anarchy

Duck of Minervagave the definition of “realism” as

“Realism comes in a wide variety of flavors, but its adherents generally agree on a number of principles:

1. International politics are, at heart, characterized by a struggle for power.
2. Attempts to transcend power – through, for instance, international institutions – are at best misguided and, at worst counterproductive.
3. The primary actors in international politics are states and the leaders of states.
4. They ultimately pursue “state interests” (‘raison d’état’).”

As realism assumes that states are the primary actors, realism thus implies that the world order can be understood by examining states.

Osama bin Laden and others strongly refute this claim.

Might there be a pattern in the phrases: Pax Romana, Pax Mongolica, Pax Britannia and Pax Americana?

That three of them were largely connected through internal waterways, high-tech roads, and/or oceans, while a fourth is a revisionist defense of a temporary barbarian occupation built-to-fail?

You’ll not find many, if any, examples of the Russians or the British tossing people from towers, gouging out their eyes, keeping them in rat and flea infested underground pits, removing body parts and so forth as the result of policy. While extreme things often happen during battle and the darker side of men sometimes gets the better of them, countries or regions outside the control of empires have hardly had a better track record, if not often a worse one.

The more desperate the fight, the more desperate the measures. Neither the Czar nor the Queen was fighting for existence. The Khans were.

Empires have always begun in successful states

The European Union, which Niall Ferguson calls an “Impire” was formed by Italy, France, and Germany, three Axis dictatorship losers of the Second World War (of course this is unfair to Italy, which retained some capability for internal debate during the war).

Lastly, there is nothing more crucial to an empire than its strength. Sheer military might is the backbone of its credibility .

The Romans were unable to militarily pacify Germania. This did not stop the Romans from integrating the Germans into a world order which transcended Rome itself. Just as the Americans lost the Vietnam War but won the Vietnam Peace, the Roman trade system extended past the frontier of the Empire proper, bringing Roman civilization into places the military could not penetrate.

The military formidable but culturally bankrupt Mongolians, by conquest, absolutely failed at their attempt to rule by force.

Every game needs a Referee and we are it.

Just as every undertaking requires a plan?

The individual hand guides markets, so it is so unreasonable to expect an invisible hand to guide nations?

Other commentators also wrote provocatively:

Mark Safranski from ZenPundit opined:

Minimal rule-sets are very economical – fewer strictures to require enforcement ( which has costs) and fewer unintended consequences as the effects of Rule-sets interact. Maximal Rule-Sets sap strength and waste resources ( USSR).

True. However, minimal rule-sets may impose a very high psychological cost. Maximalist pedophilia rulesets may be easier for a state than minimalist pedophilia rulesets, even if they increase terrible crime, because of the human pressure to “do something.”

Jing Who Dares states:

If we see the past as a guide, empire may have brought prosperity but the seeds of their demise were also sown within that success. As the saying goes, prosperity brings complacency, and no matter how prolific the prophets of empire may have been their power and the order they established eventually collapsed under the weight of entropy and chaos only to be succeeded by a new order.

However, the Roman Peace did not bring complacency. It brought internal struggle — a fourth-generation religious movement. Struggle is natural for humanity, so, if anything, prosperity brings non-complacency.

French-Style Protectionism Comes to America (and soon the world?)

A New Threat to America Inc.,” by Jeffrey Garten, Business Week, 25 July 2005, pg 114, http://businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_30/b3944123.htm.

France and the rest of “Old Europe” have rightly been criticized for trying to export burdens on the rising states of central Europe. From the old Iron Curtain to the borders of Russia herself, the central European states have lowered taxes, lightened regulations, and enjoyed strong growth. But this was not good news to the French and the Eurocrats, who saw a pro-growth economy as “unfair.” France’s solution has been to try to force New Europe to have higher taxes and more regulation. After all, if the French suffer because of bad French decisions, why shouldn’t everyone?

Former Clinton appointee and Yale Professor Jeff Garten believes America should act like the French

The rise of these new multinationals will force Corporate America to rethink strategies for Third World product development, marketing, and links with local companies. But growth of these new rivals should also compel Washington and other Western governments to revamp today’s inadequate hodgepodge of global commerce rules. The reason: Western companies could be disadvantaged by having to adhere to more stringent economic and social standards than the competition [sic — tdaxp], because of their tougher [he means “less competitive” — tdaxp] home-country laws and expectations.

There is a huge gap in the international framework for such standards. The World Trade Organization deals with governments but not with companies. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development has established a code of conduct for multinationals, but compliance is voluntary and pertains only to its members — mostly from rich countries.

For example, all companies should be held to international accounting standards, including financial disclosure and transparency [so much for competition! — tdaxp]. There should be accepted corporate-governance rules, including protections for minority shareholders. The requirements for listing on major stock exchanges should be more rigorous and uniform. And all global companies — including those from the West — should disclose their labor conditions and the impact they have on the environment using a common, audited format. None of this has yet happened.

As long as American multinationals ruled the global roost, Washington resisted most formal rules for international business on the grounds they would constrain U.S. outfits such as IBM (IBM ) and Coca-Cola Co. (KO ) But the challenge from emerging-market companies signals that the dominance of big U.S. and European corporations is no longer assured . Uncle Sam should take the lead in efforts to build a new global commercial order — while the U.S. still has the clout.

In other words, Garten thinks America should export rules, not import freedom; government dictates, not peer-to-peer agreements.

The French would be proud.

Act Recklessly to Win

Seuss on Japan,” by Curzon, Coming Anarchy, 30 July 2005, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/07/30/seuss-on-japan/.

Dark Diary,” by Alan Dowd, The American Enterprise, September 2005, http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleID.18658/article_detail.asp.

In anticipation of the 4-year mark of 9/11, the AEI‘s magazine gives a chronology of what might have been

January 27-February 12, 2003
Explosions rocked the government district in Amman, and rescue workers succumbed to caustic fumes and blistering skin as Jordan reeled from the deadliest terror attacks worldwide since September 2001. Jordanian sources reported that a cloud of poison enveloped a wide swath of the capital after ten buses exploded throughout the city. At least 4,100 people were killed, with thousands more treated in hospitals and makeshift decontamination facilities outside Amman. Officials estimate between 100 and 200 Americans among the dead. According to the White House, the poison cloud was sulfuric acid.

A video recording by a man identifying himself as Musab al-Zarqawi warned that more attacks would follow if Jordan continued to cooperate with the United States. Washington confirmed that Zarqawi is a Jordanian with ties to both al-Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence.

On the same morning that a U.S. medical relief plane was downed over Amman, the New York Times published excerpts from a CIA memo warning about the possibility of Baghdad transferring material to Zarqawi for use against U.S. interests. But according to CIA director George Tenet, “the intelligence was too murky…we just couldn’t connect all the dots.”

King Abdullah was not harmed by Zarqawi’s attack, but his government was toppled. A committee of clerics sympathetic to bin Laden emerged to govern the once-moderate Arab nation. “This is a great step toward our new caliphate,” an aide to bin Laden announced.

May 1-5, 2004

Stung into action by the dirty-bomb attack in Chicago, the lame duck Bush administration vowed to begin “an all-out war on terror.” A flurry of activity at military bases all across the nation underscored the seriousness of U.S. intentions. But the buildup came to a sudden halt after two soldiers were killed and 15 injured when an attacker lobbed grenades into a barracks at the headquarters of the 101st Airborne in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. News outlets initially reported that the attack came from a breach of the base’s heavily guarded perimeter, but Army spokesmen later confirmed that the attacks came from inside the sprawling facility. Sergeant Hasan Akbar was detained after the attack, which left the nation paralyzed with fear.

Any hopes of the American people overcoming that paralysis were dashed when bin Laden issued a stunning double-edged threat: “Be warned,” he began, “our martyrs have infiltrated your military. If you attack our brethren, we will carry out more martyrdom missions against your army. If your stooges in Europe attack, we will strike them. And if the Zionists attack, we will rain missiles on their cities. America lacks the will to stand up to our martyrs.”

Checkmated by what he called “an axis of evil,” a humiliated Bush ordered U.S. forces to stand down.

I immediately though of Chirol‘s and Duck of Minerva‘s Dr. Seuss series, and in particular a Seuss strip posted by Curzon

medium_seuss_japan_md.jpg

It can so easily be flipped to

medium_tdaxp_japan_md.jpg

While sometimes wise, delay can be a bad problem much, much worse. When time is against you — when the correlation of forces is inexorably sliding from bad to worse — intervention is needed. In the new version of the comic, Japan let her relationship with the United States get so badly that by December 1941 the only way to not capitulate to American demans was war. By wishing the problem would go away, by hoping that the bath water would somehow cease warming, the Empire guaranteed the water would be scolding hot. Heated by a nuclear furnace.

When the “go slow” lobby cried for a Ramadan truce in the Afghan War, when the “go slow” lobby wanted “more time for diplomacy to work” before the Iraq War, when the “go slow” lobby wanted to delay the Iraqi Elections, these dove Leftists were making the same mistake as the hawk Rightists of pre-War Nihon. They did not realize that time was on the Enemy’s side. In this new war on terrorism, despotates are a swamp that terrorism thrives breeds in. Tyranny is like a flame heating a bath. The longer the flame is there, the worse the bath gets. Wait long enough, and the bath will kill you.

And when that “bath” is the war against terrorism, then the only solution will be to never get it — to capitulate to the terrorist’s demands, because you have waited too long.

To change the cartoon once more:

medium_tdaxp_seuss_go_slow_md.jpg

Then what is the solution? When you are cornered, what should you do? How should you approach the bath? What was the right path after 9/11?

First, tactically embrace defeat. If you find yourself in that situation, it is because you have already waited too long. Give into despair that you cannot wait any longer.

Then, rearrange your mind. Embrace the task before you. Want to do it.

Last, realize that caution is your enemy. If you had not waited so long, you could take a slow-and-steady approach. But you have already waited too long, and time is on your enemy’s side. And Mao said, “Just act recklessly and it will be all right.”

Sometimes, if you don’t act recklessly you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

Or the rest of your civilization’s existence.