Clausewitz and the Involvement of the Military in Politics

I’m republishing this piece for the readers of this blog.

In Presidential Sweepstakes McCain Sees Stars

By William M. Arkin

Washington Post December 19, 2007

A response by Con George-Kotzabasis

If Clausewitz’s dictum is correct that ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means’, then Arkin’s “dictum” that ‘the military…stays out of politics,’ is a caricature of reality.

I am using Clausewitz’s dictum to illustrate that one cannot separate war from politics if the military arm which is engaged in hostilities is going to be successful in defeating an enemy. Politicians to make the right decisions about a war must rely for their concrete data on those engaged directly in war, i.e., the military, even if these data could be influenced by the beliefs and values of the latter. Therefore the “rule” that decrees that the military should not be involved in politics, as Arkin argues, is an oxymoron.

It’s a farcical rule and goes against the grain of all experience. A perfect admittance of this reality was the questioning of General Petraeus by Congress, of the former’s military report on Iraq, when its democrat representatives, and indeed, many from the media and the anti-War movement, like MoveOn org, accused Petraeus of being involved in politics, since they all considered his report of being politically biased as it purportedly supported the policy of the Bush administration on Iraq.

Ironically, the critics of Petraeus while upholding the fiction that the military should not be involved in politics were admitting at the same time that the general’s military report was influencing politics. As indeed it should have done. Where else politicians would get their information so they could make their judgment about the policies that are needed for the conduct of war?

It’s absurd! One cannot put the political beliefs and values of the military in general, and of its commanders in particular, that inevitably flow into the political process, in the straitjacket of an unrealistic rule that ordains that the military stays out of politics.

 

Can Human Greenhouse Emissions Trump the Natural Forces of the Universe?

I’m republishing this piece for the readers of this blog hoping they will find it to be of some interest. 

A short reply by Con George-Kotzabasis to:

A Cool Look at Professor Aitkin’s Global Warming Scepticism

By Dr. Geoff Davies

On Line Opinion, May 16, 2008

It would be impertinently impetuous and stupid for a layperson like me to argue with an expert in the field as Dr. Davies is. I am however a skeptic. It might well be scientifically true that human “greenhouse emissions are the cause of the present warming”. But in my opinion the crucial scientific question is whether these negative human actions have the power to trump the positive natural forces of the Universe that determine the intra and inter relations of the planets and the sun in their state of equilibrium. It’s this axiomatic question that the supporters of climate change, like Davies, must answer first.

There has been ample evidence that in Roman and medieval times the earth was warmer. Davies himself admits that there have been “fluctuations in the amount of heat received from the sun (due to the slow gyrations of the earth in its orbit around the sun”). It seems however that natural forces triggered their own “stabilizers” of cooling periods and the earth once again found its viable natural balance and avoided extinction. Further, Nigel Lawson, the former editor of the Spectator and Chancellor of the Exchequer, poses the up till now unassailable question that has not been answered by the climate “gloomies”:“Is it really plausible that there is an ideal average world temperature…from which a small departure in either direction would spell disaster?”   

When one chooses to go on the warpath one must be confident about his position and clear and undeviating about one’s goals. Dr Davies seems like a defeated “combatant” to have abandoned the field of battle and its original goal. It seems that he finds it difficult to prove his case and therefore his goal no longer is to demonstrate that greenhouse emissions cause global warming but to argue, by shifting his position and aims, that by stopping the “over-exploitation of the earth, reducing “energy use and greenhouse emissions”, all of which are easily achievable according to him, the end result will be ‘to improve our lives’, save money, and “allow our grandchildren’s grandchildren to inherit a rich and fulfilling world.”

With this new position Dr Davies has dropped the scepter of science from his hand and replaced it with the staff of the Greek seer Tiresias, predicting generations ahead the fulfilled life of “grandchildren”. But forgetting that the threats to a happy future for mankind might not only arise from the over exploitation of the earth but also from the mutual deadly belligerence of men their religious dogmas and ideologies.

But wait for his zinger: “If we are causing global warming” by “a change in our lifestyle… for reasons other than global warming…it would mitigate that problem too. If not, no harm done.” Hence, there is a great chance that by the Walpolean fairy of serendipity anthropogenic global warming will evaporate. But without for a moment daring to dispute the power of benign fairies, I continue to rest on the oars of my skepticism.

Your opinion…

A reply by Dr. Davies and a counter reply by Kotzabasis

In my challenge of 17 May my intention was to broaden the view to see if there might be some common ground. Evidently Thermistocles (Read Kotzabasis) wasn’t capable of comprehending that.

I’ll broaden it even a little more. If you don’t believe we can endlessly increase our use of Earth’s resources, the implication is that at some time we will have to change the way our economies work, and also stop the increase in population. If you also agree the Earth is showing many signs of over-exploitation (I include global warming, though you may not), then it suggests the time is now. Then, why would you spend so much energy arguing against “AGW”? Why not argue for (or work for) the change we must make?

Clive Hamilton on New Matilda says a better description of many objectors is “contrarian”. Do you just like to object and be contrary? If so, deal with your personal problem instead of spraying it around on everyone else.

If you think we CAN endlessly increase our use of Earth’s resources, I can only refer you to basic physics, starting with conservation of mass. (Note: I said “endlessly increase our use of resources”. I didn’t say “indefinitely improve the quality of our lives”. We can use fewer resources more cleverly than we do now and still live well.)

If you don’t see the Earth showing any signs of stress, I suggest there are none so blind as those who will not see.

I refer everyone to Clive’s article:
http://www.newmatilda.com/2008/05/19/death-rattles-climate-change-skeptics
He does a better job than me of giving a fair portrait of science, climate scientists and IPCC, and contrasting them with the shonky denialists, who of course always claim there’s a conspiracy to prevent them from publishing.

Posted by Geoff Davies, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 10:35:52 AM

Kotzabasis says, 

Dr. Davies

It was evident even to blind Fredie that you broadened your view since you felt you were “narrow” in your arguments to make your case on the original issue of global warming. It’s rather amusing to hear a scientist say that by broadening his view he was seeking to find “some common ground.” Scientists, as you know better than me, are not interested in seeking a common ground but in seeking the truth. And once they are confident that they are close to finding it they don’t deviate from their path. But you did! Without consciously realizing that by doing so you were weakening your original position.

I can assure you I am no Hamiltonian “contrarian”. If you had read my first post you would have seen that. You just gave me the strong impression with your “broadening” post that you were no longer arguing like a scientist but like a seer or more precisely like an ideologue. And your current post with its “common ground” substantiates this impression.

I don’t disagree with you that we “CAN endlessly increase our use of Earth’s resources” without endangering our future well being or that the earth does not show “signs of “stress”. But I thought we were specifically talking about the “stress” of global warming and not the earth’s overall exploitation by man in his foolishness not to use the earth’s resources with Occam’s razor.