Any president might violate the Law of War, but what president can violate the Law of Gravity? Universal justice is blind, and the laws of nature are its legal code. All life, all humanity is its subject. There are no exemptions, and no violator is pardoned. The laws of nature apply to all human endeavors ? including war. A president or a prime minister may avoid prosecution for war crimes if they have the power to do so, but no person and no nation is mighty enough to flaunt the laws of nature without suffering the consequences.
This world has a tendency to reduce the greatest, weaken the strongest, and overpower the most powerful.
Perhaps the greatest military philosopher of all time, Charles Darwin first described the Law of Natural Selection in his scientific treatise, “The Origin of the Species.” Commonly known as “the survival of the fittest,” the Law of Natural Selection states that those creatures best adapted to survival in their particular environment will be the ones most likely to pass their traits on to others. The result is that over time, any species that survives must constantly improve its ability to resist threats to its existence. Hence, as it pertains to the battle for survival, the Law of Natural Selection can be restated as follows: The resistance always increases.
I am a commander in the War on Germs. Germs prey on the weak and give no respect at all to the well intentioned. Every day, I issue orders to have them killed and I feel no remorse in doing so. In fact, my feelings toward germs fairly represent those of humanity in general. Everyone hates germs. As a result, it is a simple matter to dispassionately study, with double blind, placebo controlled scientific tests, the best ways to defeat germs on the field of battle. Humans gain an additional benefit from these studies when we recognize that the same laws of nature apply to both men and germs. In other words, the War on Germs can help us in the War on Terror.
Now one may rightfully argue that fighting germs and fighting humans is not the same thing. For starters, humans are generally considered to be smarter than germs. Germs develop resistance by dumb luck. Humans do this too, but at least occasionally, intelligence also plays a role. Germs have a hard time communicating their knowledge to other living germs. Humans have cell phones not to mention other, more antiquated modes of communication. Humans employ chemical weapons against germs, but generally avoid using such weapons of mass destruction against other humans. So when it comes to developing resistance, it is safe to say that humans are at least on par with germs.
The resistant strain, ‘indigenous Iraqi’, is becoming less responsive to treatment, and better at permeating the USA body’s defenses.
Returning to the scientific studies, we find that the Law of Natural Selection, when applied to warfare, manifests itself as various practical rules. These rules were discovered while studying germs, but again, they apply equally to humans since the same laws of nature govern both groups.
1. Fighting strengthens the resistance. Scientific studies have proven that each time we order a particular antibiotic into battle, germs develop greater resistance to that weapon. This is because those creatures that best resist, survive to pass on knowledge of their superior defenses to others. Eventually, even marvelous weapons such as the “wonder drug” penicillin become impotent in many situations. In the same manner, each time an army attacks its enemy, the survivors pass their knowledge of how to resist that attack on to others. The weapons that are used for these attacks eventually become impotent in many situations. Hence this first rule has a logical corollary: To maximize a weapon?s effectiveness, avoid using it. Pre-emptive, prophylactic antibiotics invariably lead to greater resistance. Physicians are taught that the best way to keep antibiotics effective is to avoid using them. The most potent antibiotics are used the least. To do otherwise only invites resistance and unnecessarily compromises our best weapons. The same logic easily applies to military weaponry.
2. Fighting helps enemies overcome your defenses. Germs become more virulent the more we fight them. If we fight them enough, even germs that were relatively harmless become deadly. The most deadly germs of all live in hospitals where we fight and kill them constantly. Again, we can thank the Law of Natural Selection for this reality. Those germs that are able to overcome our defenses in battle are the ones that survive to pass on their abilities to others. We can expect the same thing when we fight other humans. To survive, enemy combatants improvise explosive devices and other weapons, change tactics, and formulate new strategies until they find a weakness in our defenses. They are then able to breach our defenses and tell anyone else how to do the same. We can only guess what further evolution in weapons and tactics await us. The corollary, then, to this second rule is: To maintain a strong defense, avoid fighting.
3. Fighting creates enemies. The weapons that we use against germs invariably affect bacteria that pose us no threat. Exposure to antibiotics causes these formerly innocent bystanders to develop resistance to our weapons and the means to overcome our defenses. Once harmless bacteria are transformed into lethal enemies. The unintended consequences of our fighting cause new enemies to appear where we once had none.
The more aggressive the ‘medicine’ used in George Bush’s global surgery, the more likely it is to feed resistant strains of humanity.
To summarize, the Law of Natural Selection tells us that the best way to maintain military superiority and to retain strong defenses is to avoid fighting. We do this not because it might be the most moral course of action and not because it is perhaps the choice of the majority of those polled. We do this even if our enemy is a universally hated, inhuman, and amoral germ. We do this, quite simply, because it is the best way to survive.
The War on Terror provides us an excellent case study on the effects of the Law of Natural Selection as it relates to armed conflict. US armed forces quickly rolled over their opposition in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but instead of disengaging, they continued the conflict as an occupying force. As the Law of Natural Selection predicted, these protracted hostilities have been accompanied by a steady increase in the strength and sophistication of the resistance. Resistance forces within each of these countries are increasingly able to withstand attacks and penetrate US defenses. In addition, the US has created new, unforeseen enemies in each area of operations.
The Taliban in Afghanistan have steadily regrouped to the extent that they now move freely about the country and have virtual control over large swaths of the Afghan countryside. They are able to forcefully take control of provincial government offices for limited periods of time. US forces, once virtually unopposed throughout the country, are largely confined to Kabul and a few small military bases. Even there, they are increasingly subject to rocket attacks, car bombs, and improvised explosive devices. Warlords who were once staunch US allies now run their own fiefdoms within Afghanistan?s borders ? often at cross-purposes with US efforts. The frontier provinces of neighboring ally Pakistan have become such a Taliban stronghold that US officials talk of the possibility of the United States invading Pakistan in an upcoming “spring offensive.”
The indigenous Afghan strain is back, and it’s developing an untreatable resistance to outside intervention.
In Iraq, US troops initially browsed the open-air markets and strolled the campuses in relative safety. Now they have been forced, for their own safety, to withdraw from bases of operations in Falluja and several other cities in the “Sunni Triangle” to areas on the outskirts of these places. A similar tactical retreat is underway in Baghdad. Everywhere in Iraq, American soldiers are increasingly at risk on the ground, on the water, and in the air. They are not safe in any of their compounds; not even in the “green zone,” the heart of the occupation, where rocket and mortar rounds strike on an almost daily basis. The resistance is obtaining more sophisticated weapons, improving the ones they already have, and learning how to use both more effectively against the United States. US aircraft and armored vehicles are being destroyed with increasing frequency.
The world is watching and learning as the resistance to the US occupation perfects tactics and strategies that are increasingly able to neutralize the United States Armed Forces. Mujahideen from all over the Muslim world and beyond are entering Iraq to join the resistance to the US occupation. Al-Qaeda, essentially nonexistent in most of Iraq prior to the US occupation, is now present throughout the country and plays an expanding role in the resistance.
George Bush might be able to fool the American public when he says, “We are safer now because of our ongoing efforts in the War on Terror.” In making such claims, President Bush might violate the public trust, but he cannot violate the laws of nature. Because the enemy has learned to adapt, US strategy, tactics, and weapons systems are all less effective now than they were before the start of the “War on Terror.” Our enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, on the other hand, through practice, have been able to improve their ability to penetrate US defenses and are teaching others how to do the same. While the world demonstrated its allegiance and friendship to the United States on September 11th, 2001, we now see increasing anti-American sentiment ? even in nations that are our allies. Each day we continue to be actively engaged in hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq the situation further deteriorates.
Across the world, resistance to the empire’s violent medicine is growing, and the strains of humanity most violently targeted are getting more numerous.
As a physician, I am awed when I witness how, when we use antibiotics inappropriately, the Law of Natural Selection may allow what starts as a tiny infection, a few microscopic germs, to overwhelm an entire body?s defenses and to devastate it. Strong, seemingly invulnerable, towering physical specimens are ravaged and sometimes killed. When this happens, physicians deny responsibility. “It is all the germs fault,” we say. “Those vile creatures!” But deep down inside, in an unspoken place, we know that we bear some of the responsibility. In response, our first inclination is to over-react. We want to fire antibiotics at all potential threats, real or imagined. When we come to our senses, we realize that if we do this we only strengthen the resistance, and increase the likelihood of even deadlier future assaults. Instead, we use antibiotics, not pre-emptively, but only in clear-cut cases of self-defense. We stop as soon as the threat is repelled. We do this not because we sympathize with the germs; we hate them. We do this because it is the best way to survive.
Americans tend to have the gut feeling that the entire body of our mighty nation could not be invaded and destroyed. Our defenses are too strong for that to happen, we believe. The United States of America may suffer occasional injuries and attacks, but we are more than capable of fighting them off. Yet if we as a nation act in an unhealthy manner, if we disregard the laws of nature, we will weaken our defenses and become more susceptible to our enemies. Are we as a nation, already too sick to realize that what begins as a minor illness may develop into a fatal disease if it is not treated with care? It has happened before. We must avoid weakening our defenses. There is no time to waste. The resistance increases as we speak.
David Wiggins is a West Point distinguished graduate, and an honours graduate of New York Medical College. He left the Army as a Conscientious Objector, resigning his commission as an Army Captain on the Iraqi front lines during Operation Desert Storm. He is currently an Emergency Physician.
Article courtesy of Duckdaotsu