"Gregory M. Cochran (born 1953) is a physicist and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, known for hypotheses in evolutionary medicine and genetic anthropology. He argues that cultural innovation resulted in new and constantly shifting selection pressures for genetic change, thereby accelerating human evolution. He is co-author of the book 'The 10,000 Year Explosion'."In a typically curmudgeonly post, Cochran imagines a robust response to jihadists, over at West Hunter.
"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 ... .I suppose we should add this to the debate about what to do about the new Caliphate. Peter Turchin has a series of articles on the same issue, applying his mathematical-history theory of 'cliodynamics'.
"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, which could make 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 Creutzfeldt–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."
Perhaps understandably, Turchin is less keen on “ethnocide”.
As Turchin points out in the relevant article, world - and European - history is chock-full of examples of the kind of stuff Prof. Cochran playfully advocates. But the West doesn't seem to do that anymore, mostly because elite opinion has been captured by empathic compassion. This almost-Buddhist ideology (bien-pensant liberalism to its enemies) is a natural fit to the rather weak government model of capitalist democracies, where it's important to keep all interest groups onside to ameliorate civil strife and get re-elected.
Government policy trundles along the vector sum of pressure group lobbying; the masses grudgingly acquiesce in the frequent stupidities which follow.
Until they don't.