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Sturgeon's House

The Destruction of History By Barbarians


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Every bit of history that is lost forever is a reason why historical studies should be well funded, because some things are on a time limit, and we can't know what until it's too late.

 

However, on the other hand, when we have treasures that are safe and stable, it could be well worth it to keep them buried until you can do it right. Don't just tear things out of the ground, do the history right.

 

And wipe the damned ideology off the face of the map. Destroy them and make being part of the modern world so compelling that nobody ever wants to forsake it to be a barbarian.

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The other question is what can we do about it that would lead to a lasting solution and not just make the worst assholes more popular for the next go at it?

 

Because taking the lead hasn't exactly worked well, and what we're doing is bleeding the hell out of them and doing a whole bunch less to make it look like we're the bad guys. People have a remarkable ability to forget and forgive the sins of people opposing who they think are the bad guys and it's high time we have that work for us rather than against us.

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I'm sure that ISIS has made great friends with the Iranians, seeing as they've dynamited a bunch of shrines to Shiite saints as well as everything else.

 

I don't recall the Shiites having any such iconoclastic tendencies, and hell, Iranian soldiers are already occupying the southernmost third of Iraq.

 

Might as well let them have the middle of it too.

 

How will they keep everyone in line?

Fear.  Fear will keep the local systems in line.

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I'm not a believer in the whole Obi-Wan Kenobi nonsense about killing terrorists only makes more of them and if you strike them down, they'll come back more powerful.

 

 

There is a finite amount of jihadists who are truly the sort that think if they die in combat they go to heaven. Kill enough of them and kill them in ways where they have no chance to even strike back and the fire begins to die real fast. Dying as a glorious martyr in an Army canteen is one thing. Getting thumped with a hellfire missile when you're cruising around in your Toyota Hi-Lux is another. This is what happened when we won (and yes we fucking won) the Iraqi Insurgency six years ago.

 

It's only going to be a matter of time until we're back there anyway. Some ISIS member (or person "inspired" by ISIS) is going to shoot up some shopping malls or blow up the Eiffel Tower and we'll be forced to go in and sort out their hash. 

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There is a finite number of true believers. There is a significantly less finite number of people who will join up to strike at a hated foe. The goal is to prevent the latter from doing so. If going and being a useful invested member of society is a good life, living on the run and fighting and dying starts sounding a whole lot less like a good idea. Just look at what happened with the cycle of attack and reprisal in Israel and Palestine allowing lovely folks like Hamas to gain control over Palestine by making things into a war and opening their arms to their new recruits. Compare it to something like the Thai work against their little communist insurgency.

 

And bullshit. We won the Iraqi insurgency just as much as we won the insurgency following the slavers' revolt, which is to say that we created an environment where the worst actors get to control the events in the region if they outlast us.

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The other question is what can we do about it that would lead to a lasting solution and not just make the worst assholes more popular for the next go at it?

 

Because taking the lead hasn't exactly worked well, and what we're doing is bleeding the hell out of them and doing a whole bunch less to make it look like we're the bad guys. People have a remarkable ability to forget and forgive the sins of people opposing who they think are the bad guys and it's high time we have that work for us rather than against us.

 

Oh, that's easy. Conquer it and make it a formal part of the Empire.

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There is a finite number of true believers. There is a significantly less finite number of people who will join up to strike at a hated foe. The goal is to prevent the latter from doing so. If going and being a useful invested member of society is a good life, living on the run and fighting and dying starts sounding a whole lot less like a good idea. Just look at what happened with the cycle of attack and reprisal in Israel and Palestine allowing lovely folks like Hamas to gain control over Palestine by making things into a war and opening their arms to their new recruits. Compare it to something like the Thai work against their little communist insurgency.

 

And bullshit. We won the Iraqi insurgency just as much as we won the insurgency following the slavers' revolt, which is to say that we created an environment where the worst actors get to control the events in the region if they outlast us.

 

http://youtu.be/-Xi0TeOuMgE

 

I've got a friend's bachelor party to attend. If you see me posting here or at WoT you'll know how exciting it is.

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Oh, that's easy. Conquer it and make it a formal part of the Empire.

The problem with this idea is that the US is absolute shit at empires. Which I would cheer you for, except for the fact that there are other, smarter actors out there and they will not be fun to live under or be around if they ever get their empire on.

 

Basically; you guys generally tend to fuck things up in an ignorant, pig-headed way rather than a malicious, calculating way.

 

 

I'm not a believer in the whole Obi-Wan Kenobi nonsense about killing terrorists only makes more of them and if you strike them down, they'll come back more powerful.

 

 

There is a finite amount of jihadists who are truly the sort that think if they die in combat they go to heaven. Kill enough of them and kill them in ways where they have no chance to even strike back and the fire begins to die real fast. Dying as a glorious martyr in an Army canteen is one thing. Getting thumped with a hellfire missile when you're cruising around in your Toyota Hi-Lux is another. This is what happened when we won (and yes we fucking won) the Iraqi Insurgency six years ago.

 

It's only going to be a matter of time until we're back there anyway. Some ISIS member (or person "inspired" by ISIS) is going to shoot up some shopping malls or blow up the Eiffel Tower and we'll be forced to go in and sort out their hash

Highlighted for correction. 

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The problem with this idea is that the US is absolute shit at empires. Which I would cheer you for, except for the fact that there are other, smarter actors out there and they will not be fun to live under or be around if they ever get their empire on.

 

Basically; you guys generally tend to fuck things up in an ignorant, pig-headed way rather than a malicious, calculating way.

 

Oh don't underestimate the US State Department's ability to fuck things up in a malicious, calculating way, too.

Besides that, I agree without reservation that the US is shit at empire.

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Oh, that's easy. Conquer it and make it a formal part of the Empire.

 

That worked right up until it didn't. Although making it a formal part of the Empire might provide a splendid chance to rationalize the bloody borders, which generally do a splendid job of creating dysfunctional states that most certainly aren't nations.

 

The thing is the US is a bit squeamish about the sort of intentionally destructive sort of trick that trades problems now for problems sometime down the road, so maintaining control isn't easy in the slightest. Kicking the can down the road is how we got here in the first place though.

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That worked right up until it didn't. Although making it a formal part of the Empire might provide a splendid chance to rationalize the bloody borders, which generally do a splendid job of creating dysfunctional states that most certainly aren't nations.

 

The thing is the US is a bit squeamish about the sort of intentionally destructive sort of trick that trades problems now for problems sometime down the road, so maintaining control isn't easy in the slightest. Kicking the can down the road is how we got here in the first place though.

 

Your argument appears to be that you can't keep the natives in line because someone will want to expand the borders of the Empire. Sorry, not following.

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Your argument appears to be that you can't keep the natives in line because someone will want to expand the borders of the Empire. Sorry, not following.

 

No, it's that the US generally is endearingly earnest about trying to make things better or at least feeling like they are, so they don't have the stomach for the usual procedures of setting it up so a local minority has the power and fights desperately to preserve it. That sort of vicious power politics that keeps everyone too busy to fight anyone other than each other in the meantime until things really come to a head isn't exactly going to fly. Which is probably just as well considering what a hash the British and French made of things in the long run.

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No, it's that the US generally is endearingly earnest about trying to make things better or at least feeling like they are, so they don't have the stomach for the usual procedures of setting it up so a local minority has the power and fights desperately to preserve it. That sort of vicious power politics that keeps everyone too busy to fight anyone other than each other in the meantime until things really come to a head isn't exactly going to fly. Which is probably just as well considering what a hash the British and French made of things in the long run.

 

I agree with the first bit, and I do agree that the Brits and French made a hash of things in the long run, but I don't really think that was because of the policies they initiated in the first place. If it were, wouldn't you have seen the decay happen slowly? In Rhodesia, for example, that didn't seem to be the case; collapse came swiftly, once the levellers took hold.

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I agree with the first bit, and I do agree that the Brits and French made a hash of things in the long run, but I don't really think that was because of the policies they initiated in the first place. If it were, wouldn't you have seen the decay happen slowly? In Rhodesia, for example, that didn't seem to be the case; collapse came swiftly, once the levellers took hold.

 

The Middle East is kind of its own deal and what happened in Africa doesn't necessarily map cleanly to what happened there, and examples where groups with no experience actually running things came into power definitely don't because there were governments and a continuous elite, the problem was cementing their rule without an external force giving them control or a real ideological backbone to legitimize them. There's a lot of really fragmented identity stuff in the Middle East, and European meddling in the borders of what had been the Ottoman provincial borders. For example, the French going out of their way to add more Muslims to Lebanon, a country which actually made things work for quite a while with one of the few decent power-sharing arrangements with their system of confessionalism (until the fixed representation ratios caved under changing demography), but a lot of countries wound up with whoever controlled the colonial power structure controlling the new countries, and often ending up in a situation where they needed to run some really problematic regimes to maintain that hold. Part of the reason for the whole Arab nationalism thing during the early Cold War was because it was the only really coherent national identity that would actually work for making nation(s) rather than countries, and that was overall a bad show. I'm gonna have to go back through my books to really firmly argue this though, I might do it or I might be too busy with work.

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The Middle East is kind of its own deal and what happened in Africa doesn't necessarily map cleanly to what happened there, and examples where groups with no experience actually running things came into power definitely don't because there were governments and a continuous elite, the problem was cementing their rule without an external force giving them control or a real ideological backbone to legitimize them. There's a lot of really fragmented identity stuff in the Middle East, and European meddling in the borders of what had been the Ottoman provincial borders. For example, the French going out of their way to add more Muslims to Lebanon, a country which actually made things work for quite a while with one of the few decent power-sharing arrangements with their system of confessionalism (until the fixed representation ratios caved under changing demography), but a lot of countries wound up with whoever controlled the colonial power structure controlling the new countries, and often ending up in a situation where they needed to run some really problematic regimes to maintain that hold. Part of the reason for the whole Arab nationalism thing during the early Cold War was because it was the only really coherent national identity that would actually work for making nation(s) rather than countries, and that was overall a bad show. I'm gonna have to go back through my books to really firmly argue this though, I might do it or I might be too busy with work.

 

I feel this is a reasonable account of things. Though I hadn't really considered the Middle East as a proper part of the Western Empires, since they weren't under their control for very long.

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I think part of the problem is that the African colonies were never integrated beyond the extractive stage. This is also the reason why things collapsed as swiftly as they did: there was no entrenched infrastructure, no large minorities that were also culturally assimilated into the homeland and no local training systems for the ruling/administrative class. The African colonies, with a few exceptions, were set up to be almost completely hollow, with no built-in functions beyond the production and shipping of primary resources to the core area.

 

This also explains why so many post-colonial African countries had/have so many issues. When all your infrastructure (physical and social) was being brought in on a boat and set to simply haul off as much of your stuff as possible, then it is no wonder that you don't want to simply switch over to another servile relationship with the same set of masters and don't have the means to do anything else. That all of this somehow gets turned around and blamed on Africans is one of the constant infuriations of my life.

 

Finally, I should note that nations have a strange magic: even the most broken, chopped-up, frankensteinian countries very rapidly develop an identity and an urge to preserve and expand it. African countries, even saddled as they are with fucked up colonial borders, seem not at all interested in returning to the pre-colonial status quo. 

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  • 2 months later...

The problem with this idea is that the US is absolute shit at empires. Which I would cheer you for, except for the fact that there are other, smarter actors out there and they will not be fun to live under or be around if they ever get their empire on.

 

Basically; you guys generally tend to fuck things up in an ignorant, pig-headed way rather than a malicious, calculating way.

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a few scholars have said the same thing.  The problem that Russia always had with the US and pinning Imperialism on it was that they barely were Imperialistic, and when they were they tended to be naive, hopeless, and idealistic at the same time.  Look at the Iraq war.  32 days to conquer a huge nation, and we had no idea what to do afterwards, or even had a clue that there would be an afterwards.  Aguinaldo said that the most frustrating thing about Americans is that it was really hard to convince people to hate them when they are running around building roads and schools for you.  

 

Nations that are good at empires are ones whose nation is in fact an empire.  The UK, Russia, and China each have distinct nations inside of them that are far more rigidly controlled than the US does to PR or the First Nations.

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