Shelby Steele – War Without Rules

Shelby Steele: War Without Rules

In the November 26, 2007 Wall Street Journal Shelby Steele offers a distinction in categories to account for wars America wins-Big Time- and wars America where “America does not do so well.” The distinction pivots around whether the war is a war of survival or a war of “discipline.” World War II, is, of course the archetype of a war of survival.
Steele’s distinction slides away from the harder test; the test that the future may very well force America to take. The real issue is that in the face of a real life nuclear threat, what would America do if an enemy had nuclear weapons, and announced not that he wanted to occupy or change the borders of the United States, but that he wanted to occupy or change the borders of another country?

In a sense, this potential threat has been the defensive rationale for the nuclear weapons game. The offensive  rationale had a very American idealistic optimism and has focused on encouraging or forcing democracy on reluctant participants in the larger Cold War Game.

Now that Communism as an ideology has disappeared the rational for more investments in nuclear weaponry has tended to follow the outlines of the defensive play book. America is not in an ideological struggle with Islam in the way it was engaged in an ideological struggle with Communism. It sees itself under attack by a violent and virulent corruption of Islam.

Now, Steele’s perspective on Iraq is interesting: Iraq is a war of discipline, of choice, and America could leave without any real fear fro its survival. However, he posits a larger war encompassing Iraq: The war against terror which is, he says, a war of survival.

Well, terror could come in different shapes, sizes and ideologies. Radical Islam may be one serious variant of the species. However, no terror is as potentially as terrifying as the terror that could ride in on a nuclear armed ballistic missile. In fact unless radical Islam obtains nuclear armed ballistic missiles, the fact is Islam cannot literally threaten America’s survival.

To handle this aspect of the terror game, America will need help. There are two powers now that have the capability to threaten America’s survival. It is not likely that either China or Russia will lay down their nuclear capability.

United, the United States, Russia and China probably could stop any other power from obtaining the ultimate terror capability; the terror that could destroy America.

Is America doing anything to bring some unity among the three real nuclear powers?




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