The Classicist: Dealing With Chaos

Victor Davis Hanson // Art19 and Just the News
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3 thoughts on “The Classicist: Dealing With Chaos”

  1. Mr. Fowler,

    I enjoy listening to the conversations between you and Mr. Hanson. However, the last few episodes I’ve noticed an echo to your voice has been present. Mr. Hanson doesn’t have this echo or boomy voice, only your voice. It reminds me of the echo you get in a completely empty room. Perhaps you’ve rearranged your studio recently?

    Congratulations on an otherwise excellent program.

  2. You ask what’s behind the seemingly irrational (unnatural) insanity upon us.

    I would argue that the simplest answer is that we are engaged in a spiritual (supernatural) battle–one which is fought between forces which seek to destroy order and bring about chaos, and the other which seeks to bring order out of chaos.

    Of course, that’s always been true. So why does it seem to be moving so fast today? The obvious answer is the impact of the digital information age.

    I would argue that the culture, less and less tethered to religion, has become less and less aware of the supernatural. To the degree that society has been reoriented to look inward rather than outward to find meaning and purpose in life, its awareness of the world is limited by purely selfish concerns. Interesting research question: how much time per day is spent taking selfies or filming oneself?

  3. Robert J Stewart

    Your remarks on the situation with China are timely. The comparison to the late 1930s is also appropriate. However, our war with Japan may not be such a good analog when thinking about China as an adversary. The division between the Japanese Army and Navy, the Army’s domination of politics thru what amounts to simple thuggery, coupled with their fatalistic acceptance of death and the belief in their racial superiority, account for most of Japan’s failures beginning with the Guadalcanal campaign. The Navy hid their losses at Midway from the Army, the Army seemed to be incapable of organizing the logistics required to support their troops, and both services scattered their resources allowing defeat in detail. This characterized their attempt to expel the Marines from Guadalcanal. Both services failed to appreciate the troop, aircraft, and combat vessels we committed to the campaign. The Navy could only operate at night, and the Army spent five months repeatedly throwing a few thousand new troops against the ten thousands of US troops. The only thing Japan did correctly was to secretly withdraw the 10,000 survivors of their 30,000 man effort in February of 1943. And only a few thousand of those survivors were still capable of battle, the rest were ravaged with disease and starved to the point of incapacity. These failures to understand the logistical foundation required by technological warfare are not likely to be repeated by the CCP. This is especially true given the example of Desert Storm and the liberation of Kuwait against what was considered to be a very competent Iraqi army.

    Will China will make similar mistakes? The tiny islands they have developed and fortified will not be much of a problem assuming we commit conventional cruise missiles in sufficient number. Cratered runways and demolished electronic warfare resources will isolate the islands from resupply, and high performance aircraft will not be able to use them as refueling sites. Just as the UK isolated the Argentine invasion force in the Falklands with their remarkable long distance Vulcan bomber attacks in 1982. After a few days of combat, the islands will be useless and serve only as liabilities. These islands are not strategically important outside of their value in lending weight to China’s territory ambitions. So China will likely treat them as expendable.

    Any attempt to invade Taiwan will face similar difficulties unless the airspace of Taiwan is completely dominated by CCP resources. Failing to gain air dominance of Taiwan, no invasion by ship or aircraft is possible over the 100 mile Strait of Taiwan. And such domination will require time. While the onslaught is in progress, the developed economy of the CCP will be at risk. Ballistic and cruise missiles with conventional warheads launched from Taiwan could flatten the transportation infrastructure and the administrative arms of the CCP. This would create massive problems for the regime. Logically, this suggests that nuclear weapons, use with some abandon against Taiwan, might be the best alternative for the CCP should they decide to employ force. The only alternative I can imagine would be a technological innovation that allowed China to blockade Taiwan and slowly starve it into submission, assuming Taiwan was incapable of reciprocating.

    Western sensibilities make it impossible to think that bio- and nuclear warfare are viable options. If there is anything that is analogous to the late 1930s, it is this inability to see the world as our opponents might view it. Appeasement only makes sense if your opponent shares your values. Assuming the CCP aligns philosophically with us on the use of all means of warfare is likely to be our greatest failure. My hope is that Japan and Taiwan are already well along on the development and deployment of the munitions that they will need to resist China. It is a technological battle, and their relative size difference is not material given their industrial and scientific skills.

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