Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New American Century?

Newt Gingrich was on Charlie Rose last night, and he reiterated a statement I'd heard most often in connection to the Project for the New American Century - the United States of America, as the strongest nation on earth, as the sole superpower, Must, absolutely Must, ensure its position, for the benefit of the United States and for the benefit of the world.

This statement seems to me to be born out of two beliefs - a moral imperative to protect/guide/lead the world, and a fear that a lack of strong global leadership from the US of A will lead to some other nation taking over global hegemony, which would invariably be a bad thing for the US. "We must be the superpower, because if we aren't, it will be bad for us."
This fear of other nations becoming dominant has lead to centuries upon millennia of nations striving to become the most powerful, to ensure their own survival, and then exercising power over other nations, to continue to ensure their own survival. Superpowers have risen, clashed, and fallen so that a nation's freedom/independence/autonomy etc, can be protected. Pax Romana, Pax Britannica, and Pax Americana all serve for the security of the titular nation, and exists not as periods without war, but without threats to survival. These, quote "eras of peace", have all hinged on the nation providing the peace doing well, and have all ended when the nations' power began to weaken. The stability provided by global superpowers is always a temporary proposition.

The hegemony that could benefit the world therefore cannot hinge upon the success of one nation. It simply cannot. Nations get overambitious, overextended, weaken, and then fall, and that cycle has very little stability relative to turmoil. For a global hegemon to be effective, it must be able to last beyond the lifespans of empires, and must be removed from the process the elevates and then breaks nations. The global hegemon must, therefore, be either extra-national or multinational, and must be able to ensure stability in spite of nations failing.

This'll be expanded on latter, but the global hegemon we need is a powerful United Nations, which avoids the pitfalls of a peace ensured by a given nation, and isn't nearly as easy to use to exploit the world as a single nation is. The other option for the US, instead of playing the part of hegemony until challenged or usurped, is to transfer the power to the UN, who simply cannot fall to a given nation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Corrollary, part 2

The role of world policeman is a troubling topic, since the debate swings from ultra-militant right-wing "It needs doing, and must be done by the United States of America" to the so-far-leftist-it's-libertarian "We must not meddle in the affairs of other nations, even if this allows for genocide". Now, my phrasing obviously shows my qualms with the opinions, but that doesn't provide much in the way of the solution.

In Why We Fight, the concept of the "One Super-Power World" was mentioned, and the Neocon plan is for America to ensure stability by being the most powerful nation on the face of the other, and keeping it that way. Pax Americana, so to speak. The argument hinges on two points: America is in a position to be the sole superpower, and if America doesn't act on this, America (and the world) will suffer. Post-World War II, another way to avoid a competing-superpowers world was created, and that way was the United nations, complete with its own potential to have military forces.

Military units maintained by a nation, but not kept on standby, could be assigned to the United Nations, ensuring full strength for peacekeeping operations, and maximizing the effectiveness of multi-lateral conflict resolution. This whole point is really just a further footnote to the draft post.

The more important part to expand on was how a draft can limit war.

For the draft to limit war, the whole process of declaring war must be changed, and the definition of war itself must be expanded to encompass police action not undertaken by the UN,
as well as all the other non-wars the US finds itself involved in. For War as occupation of, or conflict with, foreign nations, an army drawn from the populace of the nation engaged in war must be required, and must be willing to do grunt work (and can certainly have options besides that). Quarterly troop surveys must be had, so that politicians can be well aware of the votes that could go against them (absentee voting for the military is good too), and newspapers must publish all congress folks votes on war bills. There is more to be done, but I'm at a loss at the moment.

A Corrollary

In the three days since I've written the draft post, I've had to write a district essay for APS concerning the draft, and I just watched Why We Fight, which is a incredible film, and really makes me wish that people like Eisenhower would run for president again.

The writing prompt concerned mandatory military service or government service upon completion of high school. I argued in favor, for many of the reasons that I was in favor of the draft, but also for the great political consciousness that it would bring, and the notion of national service as a due to pay for living in a nation. I also reasoned it would make politicians especially reluctant to go to war, provided that in times of war only a draft is an option, and that there are very few ways to avoid it.

This analysis was idealistic, and overlooked a few key parts of war:
1. The time delay between drafting an army and deploying an army
2. The role of volunteer, professional armies

Firstly, the draft as preventative-war-method requires that a nation rely on a drafted army, and that a nation be willing to wait for the army to be drafted, trained, and then deployed before going to war. This is an unrealistic assumption, and so let me qualify it - going with the war powers act, (since this is largely US specific, but not entirely), a sixty-day period exists where the military can be used before the action has to be declared a war. This exists so that an immediate response can be made, and so that congress can ultimately decide whether the war is worth fighting. It does change the "Congress declares war" part of the constitution, which is unfortunate, but it allows a civilian-controlled, civilian-guided immediate-response war effort, which is preferable to letting the military respond as they deem appropriate.
So, the military must be able to fight for 60 days before a full-scale war is needed. The draft should be required to strengthen the army beyond that point, and to allow a nation to fight war.
For any war lasting beyond the sixty-day period, war must require drafted troops.

The role of the professional armies in a draft-dependent military is two-fold. The first role is to learn everything and run everything that would be too time-intensive for drafted soldiers to do. This is the tricky work, the mechanical work that requires serious training and long-term career-devotion, where military as profession is required. The second role for the volunteer, professional army is to provide the necessary military force to respond immediately in defense of a nation. This is very tricky, because the nations defense must no longer include military adventures into the third world that can wait for a full-scale, drafted military to be deployed. The immediate-response must be there to protect our nation, itself, and do little more.

The third part is the hardest, and has been commented, the draft is useless at limiting war if people cannot change politicians attitudes/votes, and back the nation away from war. in this new "War Powers Law" doctrine thingy I'm hammering out, a requirement would be made for a nationwide war vote during the sixty-day period of immediate action, or whenever a proposal to go to war is set before congress. Making the decision to go to war a national one, and not just one guided by the opinions of congressfolk must be necessary.

More to say, more to say, and some mention of the role of the UN in all of these needs to exist. More to come, after school at the soonest

Monday, March 12, 2007


I'm for limits on war. The harder it is for nations to fight war, the more genuine conviction and moral/legal authority is needed to initiate the conflict, the better. Which is why I favor the draft.

No, originally, the draft expanded war, made it easier. Widespread conscription was used during the wars of the French revolution, and allowed France to effectively fight off all it's rivals before even having a stable government. After Napoleon took over, it allowed him to come the closest to conquering all of Europe that anyone has ever come. This was a shift from the previous four centuries of war, where professional armies fought each other on the behalf of ruling monarchies. Easy enough to go to war, but expensive and small enough to limit war to a large degree. The ranks had been bolstered by conscripts, but the armies were professionals, removed from the daily life of a nation

France's draft was different. It applied to all men, and it was a tool used to keep the republic intact, first when fighting the established French military, and then when fighting the rest of Europe. This was war engaged in by the people of the nation as a whole.

The latter wars of Europe found larger expanded professional armies and mandatory military training for most men. The entire society was being prepared for war, but wasn't engaging in war much at all. World War One changed this. Suddenly, the large standing armies were not enough, and every nation called up its reserves, mobilizing men between the ages of 15 and 60. And it was a huge, gigantic, attritional stalemate. The draft had made war more costly and harder.

A greater challenge of succeeding in war doesn't, by itself, make war less likely to happen. Untouchable monarchies or dictators would be free from the ill effects of war, and so be able to warmonger as they pleased. Democracies are different. When a government can risk losing it's power by engaging in a frivolous war, the war won't be engaged in, or will be until new public officials are elected. The draft also brings the war home to the elected, if it's executed properly. While the elected themselves are draft-exempt, the children of politicians should be just as susceptible to the draft as anyone. Historically aren't, but should be.

The draft also demands sacrifice on the whole of the nation - not just the professional soldiers and their families. The whole nation. Everyone suffers to a degree in a drafted war, and they should. War requires sacrifice, and the steeper the cost, the less willing people are to sacrifice, the less likely the are to risk going to war. And if the sacrifice is deemed worth it, then the war is probably valid and in the best interests of the people.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I entered high school with a plan to create an underground newspaper, and finally, after four years, I've got one going. It's had three issues, released Oct. 31st '06., Feb. 16th '07, an March 9. '07. It's a fun little experiment. The tricky part is that, under the APS (Albuquerque Public School) Student Behavior handbook, all "Student publications are subject to prior restraint and censorship. (See Procedural Directive for detail)". So, assuming I've done anything worthy of offense, I'll be subject to some process that I can't, currently, get information on. Whee!

It doesn't really matter. People'd have to read it before they'd try and get me in trouble.

I'll keep my eyes out for some free-student-press thing so that this can become something like bloggably relevant.

Back to the blogoshpere!

A lot has happened in my absence, what with calls for widening of the tubes, riots on second life, and the general continuation of life as is.

Also, it appears my blog-inspiration has, in her definition of blog, included the term "regular updates". Gasp! Shock! Mutter mutter mutter.

So, Plastic Manzikert now has an update schedule that will be kept. If you check Sunday mornings, you should never be disappointed, but odds are I'll update before then.