the Maxim gun

Now and then I contemplate the possible outcomes if the United States got really, really angry, say at jihadists, if they went too far and struck a nerve. Crazed fury. Jihadists seem to think that enraging the western powers is strategically sensible, but they might be wrong. I’m not talking about little things like the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan: no, I mean really angry. You should picture Uncle Sam turning green and bursting out of his Uncle Sam suit (fortunately he wears highly stretchable purple undies).

There’s the old reliable, nuclear weapons. There wouldn’t be a lot left of the Arab world, especially when you consider little tactical enhancers like blowing up the Aswan Dam, or nuking a nuclear reactor. You could simply drop enough medium-life-time radioactive dust to make a region uninhabitable for months, or years, or decades,  making the Haj pretty difficult.

Even semi-conventional war could become lot more intense: we haven’t done fire raids lately, but we still can (B52s can carry a huge payload). It’s hard to make laser weapons work for most purposes (atmospheric transmission) – but it’s easy to make ones that blind. We’re working on smart bullets: right now you have to fire thousands per hit, but that’s going to change.

Nerve gas? effective.

Germ warfare? Amazing things are now possible: we could probably tailor agents to hit particular ethnic groups (there is always leakage: I’m not saying that we wouldn’t get our hair mussed.) . They could kill – swiftly, or agonizingly slowly, They might trigger Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease: not just for cannibals, anymore. You might see agents that cause insanity, or sterility, or damn-foolishness(hmmmmm). Once CRISPR goes to war, you would see agents that cause germ-line genetic changes – nasty changes with built-in genetic drive that spread to the whole population.

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48 Responses to the Maxim gun

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a sweetheart.

  2. AppSocRes says:

    My personal favorite: An ethnically targeted slow virus that reduces fertility to well below replacement levels. An undetectable form of eugenics that could greatly speed up human evolution via cultural selection.

  3. Ursiform says:

    Sounds like a Donald Trump wet dream …

  4. Ursiform says:

    You realize you’d be violating their safe spaces.

  5. Ed Johnson says:

    There was a sci fi short story that involved an engineered virus that killed 20% of humanity; to reduce the population to “manageable levels” according to some first world bureaucrat. It was supposed to be deployed in Africa and Asia, but the designed had a conscious and added it to sandwiches served at the meeting where deployment was discussed. Specifically targeting himself in the effected group, he made sure he lived long enough to tell the officials that 20% of them would die too, and that it was incurable. Of course, the US would not have such an issue – since we are always right and all…..
    Despite the obvious attractions of tailored bio-weapons I still prefer good old fashioned nukes – after all we paid for them, we should get some use from them….

    • George Church of Harvard has talked about how CRISPR can just as easily be turned on as turned off. Now let’s just say for the sake of argument that we don’t kill the rabble rousers, but just make them infertile to the point that no matter how much effort they put into it they will still reproduce below replacement levels until that form of genetically engineering is disabled. Killing people seems so old fashioned, just prevent new ones and in a few generation everyone will have elbow room.

      Incidentally Prince the singer thinks the evil manipulators are already up to releasing birth control through the chem trails left by airplanes. He of course is batshit crazy but I wish he wasn’t.

    • TWS says:

      The last “There Will Be War” has the Chinese releasing a virus in Africa after a particularly nasty attack on the family of an oil worker. At least I think it was an oil worker. The Chinese warn America through back channels this is a one time deal and will not affect most Americans.

      I could see China doing something like that but we didn’t hammer the ever loving shit out of the Arab world after 9-11 it would take something like a deliberate plague or nuke.

  6. another fred says:

    I don’t think we should discount that the arrow can fly both directions. As the jihad drags on the west will feel more and more compelled to press the jihadis, which will garner them more and more sympathizers, some of whom will have a significant amount of education. From what I understand the level of expertise needed to use CRISPR is falling steadily.

    Infrastructure requirements are pretty minimal compared to the manufacture of other WMDs. Surely they do not lack a delivery system.

    As often as accusations are made even now, it is not hard to believe that someone will find justification for “retaliation” for a perceived attack. Seems improbable that we will keep that genie in a bottle.

  7. Frank J over at IMAO always said “nuke the moon” (or one of our own national parks) after 9/11, to show them we are crazy and might do absolutely anything. In retrospect, that seems inexpensive and just as effective as any of the other plans put forward.

    Really, you only have to go berserk once a century or so. Much less death, you can say you’re sorry (wink, wink) endlessly, and far from creating enemies, everyone suddenly wants to be your friend.

  8. I’m trying to pin down a short story I read 40+ years ago (one of Bruce Jay Friedman’s?) A researcher at a Big Pharm company stumbles on a toxin that kills only yellow mice. At story end he happens to overhear a Japanese colleague on the phone, ordering up a big batch of white mice. Anyone know the story & author?

  9. maciano says:

    Destroy the Kaaba, as Flaubert said.

  10. SonOfRekab says:

    When you say “leakage” when it comes to viruses, are you aware you would be potentially wiping out large segments of the populations of Greece, Italy and France as well?

  11. epoch2013 says:

    I have a hunch that once you design some virus to target a specific ethnicity it can mutate and come back to target yours. Like war gasses can blow back to you.

  12. nankoweap says:

    “I’m not saying that we wouldn’t get our hair mussed.”
    Buck Turgidson:

    • Scott Locklin says:

      Damn it; scooped.

      For “don’t make us angry” mighty smitings: I’m unreasonably fond of the recently revived Sakharov nuclear tidal wave. Maybe because I live so close to San Francisco.

  13. RCB says:

    Could you quantify “really angry” on a historical scale? Perhaps compare to 9/11 levels of madness? Pearl Harbor? …Other examples? (I’m an ignoramus when it comes to most history that didn’t occur in my lifetime, sadly.)

    • gcochran9 says:

      The urge to totally destroy a foe is sometimes the result of the foe’s action. Other times, peoples or countries are just that way, without much provocation or even an obvious reason. Practical considerations and the passage of time often temper this urge – also, decision makers aren’t just expressions of the popular will. Or even close to it, a lot of the time.

      Border wars (meta-ethnic conflicts) can leave a lot of frontiersmen furious, after losing their families for example. The Puritans were furious in and after King Philip’s War. After Metacomet’s death, his wife and nine-year-old son were captured and sold as slaves in Bermuda. His head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth, where it remained for more than twenty years. His body was cut into quarters and hung in a tree.

      Sometimes this was an individual thing. Jeremiah Johnson, also known as Liver-eating Johnson.

      The Nazis were utterly murderous against the Jews, and in eastern Europe against everybody. They contemplating exterminating all the Slavs, and certainly killed millions – in ways that made them more likely to lose the war. And I sure can’t think of what exactly the Jews, the Poles or the Russians had done to provoke them. Similarly, the Japanese acted like a plague of locusts most everywhere they went – but I don’t think you can call it revenge. Revenge for what?

      The Russians were mad as hell at the Germans after WWII, but they didn’t treat the Germans anywhere near as badly as the German had treated them. Partly this was due to reasons of state: Stalin thought that the East Germans would be useful (alive). For example, 57% of Russians held as POWs by the Germans died, while about 15% of German POWs held by the Russians died.

      The Mongols started out exterminating: hardly anyone seems to have survived in the Kin empire. Then Yelü Chucai sold them on taxation instead of extermination – but they would still exterminate when a city rebelled, or simply because they were in the mood, as with Baghdad in 1258.

      In WWII people in the US hated the Japanese a lot, and that hatred grew with war experience. Rape, torture, murder, lethal medical experimentation, cannibalism – not the way to make friends and influence people.

      Halsey said that when he was done, Japanese would only be spoken in Hell. We sank their navy and merchant fleets (bringing them to the edge of starvation): burnt their cities to the ground, nuked them. But we took their surrender, when they finally gave it, and treated them pretty decently, much to their surprise. Not everyone with personal experience agreed with that. My father met a Canadian (originally British, in the RAF) who had been captured at Singapore and spent years in Japanese POW camps. He was at Nagasaki when we nuked it, and he enjoyed it. What he couldn’t understand was why we ever stopped dropping atomic bombs on Japan.

      • Purple Furple says:

        Did the Germans do anything comparable to the Red Army’s hurricane of rape?

        • gcochran9 says:

          Well, let me put it this way. Das Reich, 2nd SS Panzer division, got a little irritated at the French in 1944. They locked up the women and children of Oradour-sur-Glane in the church – six hundred some – and burned them alive. Afterwards, a Das Reich veteran expressed confusion as to why everyone was so upset about it. “Compared to what we did in Russia, that was nothing!”

  14. Ilya says:

    we could probably tailor agents to hit particular ethnic groups (there is always leakage: I’m not saying that we wouldn’t get our hair mussed.)
    once CRISPR goes to war

    I was hinting about something similar in my reply on your blog more than 2 years ago:

  15. sprfls says:

    CRISPR doesn’t need to be directly weaponized to be a major national security threat…

  16. JP Straley says:

    So there like 2 billion Muslims, right? Even if the smart fraction is small, that’s plenty of guys smart enough to figure out really unpleasant options to strike back at The Great Satan. It’s practically guaranteed because of the large numbers we’re talking about.

    No, the appropriate defense is actually thousands of miles of oceans, the determination to stop dysgenic & maladaptive immigration, and the understanding that almost all foreign intervention works against the best interests of the West and particularly against the best interests of American citizens.

    JP Straley

    • Ursiform says:

      ~1.6 billion.

    • epoch2013 says:

      And play them subtly against each other.

      • Jim says:

        If we leave them alone we probably won’t have to bother about playing them subtly against each other. They seem highly prone to fighting each other without any outside encouragement.

    • Jim says:

      I agree. Our interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan have been worst than useless. Now Europe faces the prospect of being overwhelmed with alien refugees many of whom hate the West and are profoundly incompatible with it.

      • ensitue says:

        “Our interventions…” Only true following the 2008 elections and increasing rapidly into world wide jihad following the 2012 elections

  17. dearieme says:

    “Even if the smart fraction is small, that’s plenty of guys smart enough to figure out really unpleasant options to strike back at The Great Satan.”

    Could be: but none of them solved the nuclear weapon problem. The key step, the cheap enrichment of uranium, they just stole from Urenco. Though I suppose you just about could classify that as a case of “figure out” if you were so minded. It might well be an easy procedure to repeat.

    • Jim says:

      But if they succeeded they succeeded. It doesn’t matter that they “stole” some technology. There are no referees to cry “foul” in competition between human groups. Just as it didn’t matter to what extent the Soviet’s first atom bomb was dependent on Soviet espionage.

      • dearieme says:

        The proposition under discussion wasn’t whether there are lots of moslems clever enough to steal something. That goes without saying. The proposition was that there are “plenty of guys smart enough to figure out ….”. Figuring out isn’t their strong suit.

        • Jim says:

          Competition between the West and Islam won’t necessarily be decided by who’s better at physics. Right now Western Europe seems to lack the will to resist conquest.

  18. IC says:

    The final outcome is not always as planed if you look at history. Caution.

  19. Harry Lahanas says:

    Even an enraged America would need some plausible deniability; the ethnically targeted virus would need to be released by a Hindu extremist AIIMS scientist, or perhaps a Twelver Shiite Iranian targeting Sunni Arabs . . . uh, just saying.

  20. Dale says:

    A fellow I know said after 9/11, “Somebody doesn’t want their country any more.”

    I gather that there are blistering poison gasses that are effective at very low concentrations and adsorb on most surfaces. They can make structures pretty much uninhabitable.

    But if you’re going to exact revenge, why not do it in the way that the Greeks, Romans, and Genghis Khan did, viz., invading the area en masse and slaughtering the entire population (either with or without saving the reproductive-age females as wages for your army)? Of course, the reason we don’t do that is the reason that we don’t do the other horrible things you’ve listed, a reason which I don’t know, but since no modern nation uses these techniques, it must be disadvantageous in the long run for a modern nation to do them.

    • Ilya says:

      The reason is the dominance of the universalist dogma, which (given its current dysgenic repercussions) is a long-term evolutionary dead-end branch of certain proselytizing religions.

      Religions/dogmas, of course, don’t have to be all like that. In fact, per Turchin, the Axial Age produced a stage of socio-cultural evolution that made large-scale societies (ergo, today’s nations via yesterday’s empires) possible in the first place. It is possible to conceive of dogmas that are pro population growth, technical progress, and are also externally expansionary/warlike. In fact there already are. Those can make living in such a world into a very interesting time.

      Actually, IMO, what we are witnessing today with regard to social frameworks, in the context of evolution, is kind of like what life was before DNA: Very fast RNA-based evolution, requiring high-reproduction and horizontal gene transfer to overcome high mutation rate. Before DNA, lots of low-level experimentation and dead-ends, and very hard to build complicated structures, due to error-sensitivity of the latter. In society-speak, this translates to lots of mini-dogmas/experimentation (philosophies, cultists, ideologies, etc. etc) which constantly cross-pollinate each other, but individuals that practice them stay more or less atomized, and their beliefs and practice don’t pass on very well to their offspring.

      With the emergence of DNA (and things around it like better protection of the nucleus etc), mutation rate slows down, the errors that go through are better corrected for, allowing the code to get passed down much more reliably. Much less low-level experimentation, of course, but it’s offset by higher-level experimentation, as the cells can now form colonies and, eventually after overcoming Weismann barrier, even whole organisms (via group selection). Horizontal gene transfer is reduced, if not altogether eliminated, but it’s offset by, again, stability of the overall code, and more reliance on occasional beneficial mutations and reliance on higher-order selection. In society-speak, this translates to religions (nay, whole frameworks) that are not merely orthodoxies, but orthopraxies. Change is much slower, there is, in fact, resistance to change, but selection operates on higher-level, because individuals are no longer individuals, but part of the collective, of a mega-family/mega-tribe that live and breath by a Law and principles that are not only not divorced from the Divine (whatever abstract or non-abstract way it can be thought of, with the former being a better choice), but in fact, are considered to be its emanations. It is, IMO, how survivable nations ought to operate.

      It is possible to imagine that a lot of such societies may converge on very similar concepts and principles. After all, evolution has a lot of examples of convergence and even re-invention. Here, like this:

  21. Some Troll's Legitimate Discussion Alt says:

    You could simply drop enough medium-life-time radioactive dust to make a region uninhabitable for months, or years, or decades, making the Haj pretty difficult.

    Dig out the old SLAM schematics from Project Pluto and cram a bunch of them with cobalt. If you’re plunging off the genocide deep end anyway, might as well bring some artfulness to it.

  22. Tim says:

    “Amazing things are now possible: we could probably tailor agents to hit particular ethnic groups.”

    I am pretty skeptical about our ability to effectively do anything so specific in the near future. Theoretically it is possible, but realistically it most likely wouldn’t work at all.

    The work on immunocontraceptive vaccines for rabbit population control would be a good starting point. But even after many years of trials, there are constant surprises and limitations. And this is just trying to reduce the spread of a placental mammal in Australia and on islands where there are no close relatives that should be spared.

    Targeting ethnic groups would be impossible unless specific people were selected to come in to get a huge dose of a virus with low transmission rates.

    Any old fashioned poison would be much cheaper and easier.

  23. Erik Sieven says:

    given the spirit of the age I would guess that the West or the USA would rather get really angry at RACISTS that at jihadists, racist of course meaning everybody who asks unpleasant questions about crime statistics or psychometry etc. The only good thing: in this case biological warfare targeting specific ethnic groups would not work, as racists are of the same ancestry as followers of the ruling ideology

  24. The Doc says:

    We need a third party oligarch to fund the research. A couple hundred million might do it. Some cover will be needed, so package it as feral dog, cat or rabbit control.

    Only a handful of people at the top need know the real purpose of the research. The unknowing researchers can study the dog/cat/rabbit genome for solutions. The knowing researchers can adapt the results for use with the human genome.

    Study CRISPR-like fertility limiters and delivery vehicles (air, food, water). Don’t have it eliminate fertility, only reduce it substantially (to avoid detection).

    Perhaps deliver it to infants (piggyback on a vaccine?) so no one know will know it is even being spread for 15-20 years. Any investigation will be stymied due to the passage of time and the destruction of records.

    Heck, it could be going on right now.

  25. Steven C. says:

    Essentially the beginning of the novel “Caliphate” by Tom Kratman. It starts with Islamist groups and North Korea smuggling nuclear warheads into several large U.S. cities, and London, and setting them off.

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