Questions from Hanson (Carnage & Culture)

John Hall
Thu, 21 Mar 2002 13:32:39 -0800

Well, I fail to understand why a literate person would not have sufficient
content for the questions Hanson asked to make sense.

Hanson is a military historian.  One of the resident Trotskyites on Baen's
Bar volunteered that he didn't like Hanson's politics, but he was still his
favorite military historian.

More context, as always, can be obtained in a book written by a given
author.  Hanson's latest book is "Carnage and Culture".  I think his columns
in NR are good, but I've also read his book.  And yes, that does provide
some extra context in a number of his columns.

The principle point in C&C is to assert, that contrary to the natural
determinist school from "Guns, Germs, and Steel", that the rise and
superiority of the West has derived from their culture rather than
biological diversity and geological fortune.

He takes pains to note that this does not imply superior moral standing for
the West.  Only that their unique culture has led directly to military
dominance.  He also takes pains to emphasize that war is about young men
getting their heads split open and their guts spilled on the ground.  He
doesn't think it is a good idea to sanitize the experience.

He also admits that not all of the key features are always present.
However, even when they were not complete they still existed.  All the Turks
at Lepanto were slaves.  Some of the Christians were slaves, but the
Christian slaves had their fetters released and were armed before the
battle.  Something the Turks would never have considered.  The British had a
queen when they invaded the Zulus who had a king.  But the British queen
could not order the execution of the lowest soldier without a hearing.
Shaka and his heirs did it all the time.

The key features Hanson sites as leading to a unique Western way of war:
1) The idea of civic militarism.  Think 'yeoman farmer who can vote' as the
foundation for the infantry.
2) Private property.
3) Individual rights.
4) Free speech.
5) Rationalism.

Those helped develop a way of war that was unique.
1) Focus on shock infantry tactics
2) Focus on decisive war.
3) The enshrinement of disciplined soldiers staying in rank and protecting
their comrades in arms, as opposed to the warrior ethic found elsewhere.
4) The subordination of cultural elements that reduced military efficiency.

-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of Paul

The Hanson article was in large part mindless in that it went out of its
way to avoid presenting context for the questions. That said, I don't
see any virtue in replacing rightest mindlessness with leftist
mindlessness. The American media thrives on conflict and disagreement.