When John Robb, of Global Guerillas, isn’t busy tooting his horn, he often comes up with insightful points about the situation we’re in – it’s a site worth bookmarking.
Which, I guess, entitles him to toot his own horn.
Today, he’s got a post up that crystallizes something I’ve been noodling with about the ambiguous relationship we in the West have with war.
He calls it “Playing With War“
The western way of war in the 21st century is a pale shadow of the warfare it waged in the 20th. The reason is simple: for western societies war is no longer existential. Instead, it’s increasingly about smoothing market flows and tertiary moral concerns/threats. As a result of this diminishment of motivation, western warfare is now afflicted with the following:
…and he proceeds to list the ways that we are newly casual in our conduct of warfare.This is keeping with my last factslapping of Juan Cole – it’s cheap fun, but fun nonetheless – in which I point out what ‘wiping a city off the map’ really looks like.
Robb’s response to this artificial barrier is to suggest that we must conform our goals to our means.
Ultimately, western societies will need to learn to live within the limits of this new framework. It is not possible for us to reverse the clock on this trend. Any mass mobilization for war that lifts existing limitations will be severely punished by both global markets and opinion (both domestically and abroad) if it ever was attempted.
Right there is the $64 million question.
Will we conform our goals and policies to the social restraints we have placed on the conduct of warfare – or will we drop the restraints?
Robb doesn’t believe that we can drop the restraints (as above). I know that we can, and wonder if we will choose to. That’s a discussion well worth having.