Home Two Men in a Room: Superior Force and the Failure of Will
Home Two Men in a Room: Superior Force and the Failure of Will

Two Men in a Room: Superior Force and the Failure of Will

Two men are locked in a single room. One has a knife and the other has a machine gun. One is determined to kill the other. Which one will walk out of that room alive?

The paradox of civilization is that superior force on the battlefield requires an industrial and intellectual culture capable of producing the technological innovations that make victory possible. Yet this is not a straight line progression, instead civilizations that use technology to create truly advanced and prosperous societies also hit what we might call Huxley's Peak, the point at which creature comforts and social decadence make the idea of force itself sublimely unattractive so that the very industrial and intellectual culture that creates a superior technological military also hamstrings it.

European civilization looked Hitler and Stalin in the eye and froze. They froze not because their reluctance stemmed from a superior morality, but from an inferior one, the fussy decadent code of the morally lazy that is often mistaken for pacifism but is more accurately named not by an unwillingness to fight, but an unwillingness to get dirty while doing the fighting.

After WW1, the winners discovered that war was messy and they didn't want to do it anymore. The businesses discovered that wartime profits didn't justify the cost and the politicians discovered that wartime successes didn't justify the ultimate price paid for using them and decided that the appearance of force was just as good as the use of force. The losers of WW1 though, Germany and Russia, which had taken a severe beating only to fall victim to a German infused revolution, were under no such illusion. While the winners of WW1 were busy digesting their post-war gains and proclaiming an era of universal peace, the losers wanted revenge.

When the winners faced off against the losers once more, the winners tried diplomacy and were nearly eaten alive for it. The aftermath of England and France's diplomacy with Hitler and America's diplomacy with Stalin left Europe in rubble and flames and the remaining half of it occupied. Yet the only lesson that seemed to have been learned from diplomacy's defeat in the face of Communism and Nazism was to repeat every one of the follies of appeasement twice over.

In the 21st century European civilization once again looks at a menace in its midst and the response is equally unfocused. Some call for negotiation and compromise, others call for battle and most sit on the sidelines and await the inevitable. While America fights the War on Terror abroad, Europe continues losing the Demographic War at home. Israel has become America and Europe's Czechoslovakia, the dainty treat on the menu of concessions meant to appease the Islamic beast.

But of course the strong do not make concessions, only the weak do. Yet militarily America, Europe and Israel have vastly superior militaries in comparison to the nations and factions that threaten them. The weakness in them is not a weakness of force but a weakness of will. But where has that will gone?

Let's go back to the two men in the room. One has a knife and one has a machine gun. One is determined to kill the other. Which one will walk out of that room alive? The answer is, the one who is determined to kill the other. A weapon is no good unless it is used. Using a weapon as a bluff only works once at most and it stops working if your opponent is willing to take the risk or knows you won't use it.

The nature of the world is two men in a room, one has a gun and one has a knife. The man with the gun insists on trying to reason with the man with the knife, to enlighten him and democratize him. The man with the knife meanwhile grins and creeps closer and takes a few swipes at him. In return the man with the gun threatens him, waves the gun around and occasionally takes a shot at him to warn him away, without really trying to hit him. Is it any real mystery who will emerge alive from this conflict?

More important than the ability to fight is the willingness to fight. A national government that is not willing to fight even to protect its own citizens has committed treason and ceased to have any continuing legal justification for its existence. There are only three things a national government is truly needed for and the first of them is national defense. Yet national governments across the world, from America to Europe to Israel, have substituted national accommodation for national defense. Amnesty, integration, moderation and tolerance have become the new watchwords.

"We are too good to fight," proclaims the new Western ethos. "We will fight only for human rights, to bring freedom to other nations." Yet how can one bring freedom to other nations, when the fundamental freedoms a national government exists to protect, the freedom to live in peace from violence and terror are not respected. Peace through accommodation only produces a one sided war. A war that is slowly being lost.

Today there is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence but between violence and nonexistence. That is a choice faced by Europe and Israel right now, not tomorrow or the day after. 9/11 emerged out of Hamburg as much as it did out of Afghanistan. That is why 9/11 should have been more of a wake up call to Europe than to America because it had become infected by the second stage of the global Jihad. Europe had become no longer merely just a target but a launching pad, a partially occupied territory Jihadis were using to get to the front line.

9/11 should have produced a recognition of the intertwined problem of demographics and Islamic terrorism, as the Cold War should have produced a recognition of the intertwined problem of the Soviet threat and Communist infiltration. Yet the same liberal Western elites who did their best to silence the recognition of Communist infiltration are now doing their best to silence the recognition of growing Muslim populations in Western nations and the terrorist threat. Those same Western liberal elites who blamed American and European intransigence toward Uncle Joe for the Cold War now blame America, Britain and Spain and Israel for enraging Uncle Osama.

As superior morality has become conflated with superior comfort, both physical and psychological, the political, academic and business elites who are creatures of a Post-WW1 ethos that tells them that war is the least profitable way to achieve their goals, continue to dance between bluff and accommodation. The very same brilliant minds that spawned the technological civilization we live in today frantically seek for some alternative to having to defend it on the battlefield. In their hands civilization has gone from steel to glass, fragile and trembling on the edge of an abyss as an unwillingness to fight even when needed has become the new morality and surrender, the supreme sacrifice that civilization makes for its enemies.


  1. Communist infiltration is still ongoing. We even have universities producing their own brand of communists from amongst us.

    Ultimately who leaves the room: Whoever needs to according to G-ds plans.

  2. It is interesting that Hashem said that he would break pride in power and strength would be spent in vain. In essence a loss of will to fight and win.

  3. Many Americans view 9/11 and Islamic jihadist terrorism, a consequence of American support for Israel's Jews. Ultimately this will become the dominant view point here in the U.S.

  4. I never really understood that way of thinking, Steve. Until the past couple of years I knew nothing about Israeli/American politics. Now that I know somewhat more I still don't understand why people blame 9/11 or other American problems on US support of Israel.

    From what it looks like to me, we haven't really given Israel all that much support.

    Regarding the post--the one who leaves the room is the one that doesn't take a threat as a bluff. That's why cops are taught to fire at a central mass--the head or chest--to inflict a lethal injury, for an injured enemy isn't stopped and is still dangerous.

  5. A man who kills is never the same after.
    If he doesnt mind it.. he is no longer human. If he does mind what he has done, he will suffer for it.

  6. Anonymous12/2/08

    Hi S.K.,

    Please check out my coverage of the opening of "Palestine Awareness Week" at U of Michigan. Feel free to re-post, link, use pictures, or the content in any way you choose.


    Let me know what you think. I hope all is well.

  7. i will look into it and encourage others to do so as well

  8. Anonymous15/2/08

    Excellent post. You have articulated a classic conundrum of democratic systems of government, how to square national interests (including defense) with personal/private interests. Thucydides writes about this in Pericles’ Funeral Oration. (If you’re interested I recommend The Landmark Thucydides with Intro. By Victor Davis Hanson).

    Steve, I don’t agree with the claim that “Many Americans view 9/11 and Islamic jihadist terrorism, a consequence of American support for Israel's Jews.” Some Americans do view things this way, most do not, and I suppose how one determines “many” is a bit subjective. Nevertheless, America is unique in its strong support for Israel, both at the level of national government, and in the hearts and minds of most Americana.

    Some—a very small minority—say this is due to “Zionist” control of the media. Most—the vast majority—say this is because Israel shares common values with the United States—a commitment to religious and political pluralism, support for free markets, and so forth. Another important aspect is Israel’s position in the region, as the only functioning democracy and as an ally in Cold War and current “War on Terror.” You will find a small minority who find support of Israel to be a liability but, thankfully, most Americans do not see things this way.

  9. Anonymous22/2/08

    In support I bring to your attention.........

    Then Satan Said
    by Natan Alterman

    Then Satan said, "How will I overcome this one who is under siege?
    He possesses bravery, ingenuity, weapons of war and resourcefulness."
    And he said, "I'll not sap his strength, nor rein him in, nor put a bit in his mouth,
    Nor fill his heart with cowardice, nor overwhelm him with discouragement
    As in days gone by.
    I will only do this:
    I will cast a shadow of dullness over his mind until he forgets that his cause is just."


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