Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Warfare -- the advantage of the Larger Population

I decided to follow-up The American Interest article by Steven LeBlanc (briefly discussed in the above), “War and Human Nature.” In 2003 LeBlanc (along with Katherine Register) wrote a book on this subject entitled Constant Battles, the Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage.

I am only 82/232 through the book and may be premature in drawing conclusions about his conclusions, but a number of questions and issues are being swirled around. To begin . . .

LeBlanc on page 73 writes, “. . . The group with the larger population always has an advantage in any competition over resources, whatever those resources may be. Over the course of human history, one side rarely has better weapons or tactics for any length of time, and most such warfare between smaller societies is attritional. With equal skills and weapons, each side would be expected to kill an equal number of its opponents. Over time, the larger group will finally overwhelm the smaller one. This advantage of size is well recognized by humans all over the world, and they go to great lengths to keep their numbers compatible to their potential enemies. This is observed anthropologically by the universal desire to have many allies, and the common tactic of smaller groups inviting other societies to join them, even in times of food stress.”

Let us first consider Russia. Without digging out the population statistics, even if such exist, I assume the population of France was during the time of Napoleon comparable to that of Russia. Napoleon was confident that his army would be victorious and had it not been for Russian weather, and the Russian strategy (if strategy it was) to withdraw until an enemy’s supply lines were over extended, Napoleon and his French army would have been successful.

And when Hitler invaded Russia, were not the two populations comparable? In reading about the German-Russian conflict, it seemed to me that the German and Russian armies were very comparable. They had similar leadership failures, similar technology and similar soldier-competence. Germany probably (although I won’t insist on it) would have won against Russia if it had fought just Russia, but it was too ambitious.

In any case Russia and Germany fit the LeBlanc scenario to some extent. If one looks at their populations today, Russia is about 140,000,000 and Germany about 80,000,000. LeBlanc discusses warfare as population control. Germany did have an increase in population after World War One, much greater than its nearest European rival, France. And since France had violated a principle (sort of) that we understand from LeBlanc, that is that France took as victor’s spoils a large share of Germany’s resources after World War One, it was in effect inviting a future attack.

Again, had Germany restricted its ambitions to France, or even Western Europe, it probably would have been successful, but it didn’t.

Time passes and we have a seemingly pacifistic collection of allies called the European Union. Germany is part of that collection. The EU came into existence to some extent as a result of the Cold War. The EU and NATO were created as a bulwark against the USSR. It was the US that provided the fighting spirit that opposed the USSR; which allowed the EU planners to assume they had abolished war and created a paradise on earth. Maybe the primitive tribes LeBlanc discusses thought similar things. An enemy was defeated, large numbers of men and children killed, and the victors returned home with the captured women and with the confidence that warfare would no longer be required because there was no one left to fight. If we ignore Europe’s pietistic assessment of their current achievement, we have something comparable to what LeBlanc described. A “tribe” with no neighbors capable of taking their “resources.” But is that quite true?

There is such a “tribe” as LeBlanc describes: a growing population with inadequate resources and in their view, possessing a collection of weak neighbors. That tribe is of course the North African Islamic. Does the weak neighbor (the EU) need to be conquered physically? Not necessarily. We see that the Islamic influx is occurring relatively peacefully. For reasons the Islamic may not care too terribly much about, the European is inviting the enemy tribe into its bosom. There isn’t even a demand for loyalty. The Islamic is permitted to retain all of his hostility and his desire to conquer.

Of course it is still early days in Europe and if there are intellectual Islamics who theorize about a possible future victory, the average Muslim probably doesn’t care – no more than the average primitive cared about philosophy. He wanted his basic stuff and if he didn’t get it he was unhappy. If the “enemy” had stuff that he wanted, and the enemy was weak, then he felt inclined to take it. The European “enemy” is weak. His “stuff,” that is, his resources including his land, is made available to the Islamic.

If that essentially primitive scenario is allowed to play itself out then Europe will one day belong to a new tribe, a tribe that speaks Arabic rather than the Babel of European languages that exist there now.

Okay, let’s turn back to Russia. They are in a similar situation. Their history inclines them toward having “buffer” states to protect them from the traditional “enemy,” the European. It is true that this enemy is in terms of military aggressiveness quiescent and in no need of Russia’s resources except for its petroleum products which Russia is quite willing to sell him, but history is a powerful lesson; so Russia is by no means inclined to divest itself of its buffer states. And several of them, both inside and outside of the Russian Federation, are largely Islamic. So Russia has invited the enemy into its national bosom, much as the EU has.

Islamic philosophers are sure to see the hand of Allah at work here, causing the enemy Europeans and Russians to accept silly philosophies which give the Islamic an advantage.

To return to the LeBlanc scenario, it isn’t very interesting to compare the German population of 80 million with the Russian population of 140 million. It is more interesting to ask how many of the 80 and 140 million are Islamic?

We have discussed immigration implications before. The US has no real ethnic identity and accepts immigrants whole-heartedly, asking only that they assimilate. Russians and Europeans do have ethnic identities and are not willing, by and large, to accept the assimilation of Islamic minorities. In the cases of Russia and Europe, Islamics are encouraged to retain their own identities, prejudices and beliefs; which fit neatly into the philosophy of the Islamist Sayyid Qutb. Of course these poorly integrated Muslims in Europe and Russia are not dedicated jihadists . . . yet. But they are, many of them, unhappy, and their unhappiness is fertile ground for the work of Islamist agitators.

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