Sunday, February 24, 2019

Vox Popoli: The contracting empire

Jim's Blog notes that the USA isn't merely losing its technological advantages vis-a-vis its now-smarter rivals, it is actually losing military capabilities it previously possessed:
As societies enter a dark age, military technologies are apt to be the last to be lost, and in the recovery from a dark age, the first to advance.

In dark ages, art declines, great buildings decline, ordinary people’s living standards decline, people harrow the ground with stones tied to bits of wood instead of iron plows, but weapons technology usually goes right on improving.

Our art is crap, we no longer build Cathedrals, but until recently, weapons were good and improving.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review has recently appeared, revealing that we have lost all nuclear military technology:

U.S. production of tritium, a critical strategic material for nuclear weapons, is now insufficient to meet the forthcoming U.S. nuclear force sustainment demands, or to hedge against unforeseen developments. Programs are planned, but not yet fully funded, to ease these critical production shortfalls.

This is euphemistic.  Recent attempts to produce tritium were fully funded, but failed, which failure resulted in new plans for new attempts to produce tritium, which have not yet been fully funded.

I have regularly remarked on America’s inability to produce tritium.  All existing nuclear weapons require tritium to juice their detonation, and without tritium, would produce a low yield explosion.  Tritium decays over time, and so fresh tritium continually needs to be added.  The US is out of tritium, has repeatedly attempted to produce more, and repeatedly failed.

The combination of a 10-point loss in the average US IQ with the systematic diversion of its best minds to irrelevant financial scams and other trivial activities means that the USA is now both less-populous and less capable than China and less capable than Russia. That does not mean the USA is devoid of military advantages, after all, it still possesses a legacy military that is larger and better-funded and more technologically advanced than any military in history, but the rot has now gone from being institutional and societal to infrastructural.

I mentioned previously that the US military is almost certainly going to lose its next war. It has neither the officers nor the civilian leadership that is capable of compensating for its infrastructural debilitation. What we are witnessing in Afghanistan and Syria and Venezuela is almost certainly the feeble last gasp of an empire in contraction.

“The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it.”
- Robert E. Lee