June 04, 2005

The Stakes: 5.5 Billion Dead

What does our enemy call 5.5 billion dead and 500 million impoverished and enslaved?


Four hundred years ago our world supported 500 million people. These 500 million lived mostly in small villages and tribes that were both self-sufficient and isolated. Today we support 6 billion. In these few centuries we have increased our population twelve times through the construction of a complex web of integrated activities that bind our health and wealth together.

The primary competency that has supported and driven this expansion has been constant innovation. Each time an improvement has been made it has both opened doors to new opportunities and demanded new skills to support those opportunities. This process of constant innovation now faces an enemy that seeks to eliminate the spirit and energy of innovation.

Our innovative spirit, the energy that so far has successfully driven and supported our expansion, has always contended with opposition. Today, the spirit of innovation, the drive for human growth and expansion, contends with technophobic elitism and anti-human environmentalism. These two have now been joined by Islamic militancy.

All three of these have goals that either severely limit or eliminate innovation. Their success has a simple result: Kill innovation, kill us all.

The new enemy is militant Islamic terrorism.

If these Islamic militants, our enemy, succeed, innovation will end and the infrastructure we have built at great cost these last four hundred years will collapse. Islamic militant victory would leave our world without the capabilities to support more than the 500 million people who lived here before our civilization began to expand through innovation. The 5.5 billion who depend on the structure of our civilization for survival would perish.

Our enemy, militant Islam, has a goal. Stated often, demonstrated almost daily around the world. If we are to deny that goal, then first we need to understand the magnitude of the goal, to comprehend what is truly at risk. Only by accepting the depth of our potential loss can we accept the burden of our required victory.

Our enemy’s stated goal is to destroy our civilization. To bring it down. And to replace is with a severely totalitarian slave state. That is their stated goal. And they have acted on that goal over and over again.

What does our enemy call 5.5 billion dead and 500 million enslaved and impoverished?


That is where we start. Nothing can diminish the magnitude of this threat.

5.5 Billion Dead - No clash of civilizations

This conflict has been described as a clash of civilizations. It is not. It is a conflict between Civilization and chaos. We have but one Civilization on this world. It has Western roots and extends almost worldwide. It has many names; Judeo-Christian, capitalist, socialist, Marxist, communist, libertarian, conservative, environmentalist. It incorporates many religions within its broad umbrella; Hindu, Catholic, Christian, Shinto, Buddhist, Taoist, Jew, Protestant, Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, Secularist. All of these coexist within our Civilization in a dynamic swirl of discussion, debate, tension, even conflict extending to war.

All of the great wars of the last century were wars within our Civilization. As ugly as it might seem, these wars were wars within and among. In the Second World War neither Germany nor Japan sought an end to Civilization, just a different way of arranging it. The same was true of the Soviet Union. Cuba and North Korea are within our Civilization. The killing fields of Cambodia and the ovens of Treblinka were all within our Civilization.

This is different. Our enemy stands outside Civilization and seeks to destroy, not rearrange. Most harshly, our enemy is a parasite on our Civilization. To have a clash of civilizations implies that both have independent standing. That there can be one or the other. One can overcome and replace the other. However, there is no civilization that can replace Civilization. Our enemy can only destroy us and in the process destroy themselves.

A parasitic culture subsists at the mercy of the host Civilization even as it seeks the destruction of that Civilization. Within our enemy’s culture there exists no ability to create and maintain the incredibly deep and complex structure that provides goods and services to 6 billion humans.

This is a war against Civilization.

5.5 Billion Dead - Our incredible wealth

A depth of wealth and competencies that defies any historical comparison surrounds us. In four hundred years we have moved from 500 million living mostly in rural subsistence to 6 billion with many living in urban wealth. Within the last hundred years we have shifted our relationship with reality. One hundred years ago plague and famine were seen as forces of nature, beyond human intervention. Now, although these still exist in pockets, they are seen as political and economic challenges. The reason they continue to exist is not due to nature, but because we have not yet mastered the political and social conflicts that sustain famine and plague.

We are on the edge of being able to deliver basic quality of life goods and services to every human on Earth. Many will live in what used to be called luxury. Most will live comfortably. Food, clothing, shelter, communication, transportation, entertainment, health care and security will be available to almost everyone. This is no longer utopia, it is emerging reality.

5.5 Billion Dead - How we arrived here

400 years ago we stood at the leading edge of a revolution. Up until that time, all people everywhere lived in some variation of a feudal or tribal civilization. A few with wealth, mostly gained through confiscation, while most lived in small, self-supporting subsistence communities. Literacy was rare; existence was fragile, bonds seldom extended outside the village. Most were at the absolute mercy of the forces of nature and of the leaders who ruled them.

Then it began to change through a very complex interaction of creativity and innovation. This change took place around the world and incorporated knowledge and skills into a complex and dynamic interchange of exploration and development. It was not a benign or even kind process. It involved slavery, conquest, colonization, exploitation and genocide. Yet slowly, step by step, year by year, life for people around the world improved. Literacy increased so skills could more easily be shared, productivity skyrocketed so fewer people were required to provide subsistence resources thus freeing up more people to provide growth. We tend to assume today that, voilà, we now exist, sprung whole from the deep well of Civilization. Not so. This has been a long and difficult road to wealth.

5.5 Billion Dead - Interdependence

How many people does it take to build a Volkswagen? 400 on the assembly line, 1,000 in the factory. 10,000 in the suppliers’ factories. 100,000 for the production and delivery of all the associated infrastructure. Plus all of the people all over the world who produce the food, clothing, personal items, education, training, recreation, entertainment and cultural bonding communications and services that bind us all together. When a worker walks into the Volkswagen plant, he or she is wearing or carrying products from all over the world. Bind it all together into a successful global economic system and it takes almost all of us combined to produce a Volkswagen. Probably 4 billion of the 6 billion have some role in the production of that vehicle. Start removing competencies and this capability starts degrading.

Our Civilization is a living organism, highly interdependent, highly intelligent and yet fragile.

We share resource with each other every day from all over the world. Tomatoes from South Africa, fish from New Zealand, cars from Korea, computers from Malaysia, movies from India, socks from Egypt, weather satellites from America.

Almost everyone contributes. The shoeshine boy in Bangkok supports a sidewalk food vendor who supports a barber who supports a landlord who supports an engineer who supports a sales rep who supports a teacher who supports a professor who supports a scientist who supports an astronaut and a dancer. All working together in a network of relationships that both gets shoes shined and the Hubble telescope repaired. Most people, even those with the most basic levels of contribution, are assets to our Civilization, not liabilities. They both produce and consume the wealth we create.

Our enemy stands apart, a consumer of our Civilization’s wealth, but not a contributor to the creation of that wealth.

5.5 Billion Dead - Managing change to drive growth

For four hundred years a pattern of change has emerged that has not yet failed us. It is not a kind or gentle pattern of change, but it works.

Someone figures out a better way for people to work together. They put the new way into practice. Fewer people are required to produce the same goods and services. Large numbers of people are displaced because their efforts are no longer required. They are unemployed and often destitute while their former compatriots enjoy the fruits of their now more productive labor.

The displaced workers must find something to do that generates value to others or they will die in poverty. So they innovate. For four hundred years we have innovated ourselves to ever increasing levels of contribution until today very few people worldwide are involved in subsistence services and most are contributing through products and services not imaginable a few hundred years ago. Talk show host, astronaut, video store clerk, fusion engineer, cell phone sales rep, programmer, heart pump technician, transplant coordinator, helicopter pilot. All created out of the resources freed up by previous increases in productivity. What has happened over and over again is that productivity driven layoffs drive wealth creation.

Once again, we are now at such a juncture with a large worldwide group of very skilled contributors, systems administrators for large scale computing environments. These people have been driven from their work by increases in the productivity of managing large-scale systems. So, what does our Civilization do with all this now latent talent? Our Civilization says, not kindly at all, innovate yourselves out of your predicament. Figure out a way to take the talent that you have and redeploy it into higher value added goods and services.

Without question, this process can be brutal, that it can destroy families and communities. Without question, it works. It has consistently and reliably added value to our Civilization for four hundred years. What is now happening is that hundreds of thousands of highly skilled ex-systems administrators are moving from unemployment into new ways of contributing value and therefore being compensated. Many of these new ways of contributing depend on individual initiative and innovation as they add new competencies and capabilities to our Civilization. We will soon see higher value goods and services arising out of the despair of the massive layoffs of these data center system administrators.

Our enemy has no ability to innovate. The demands of subservience and obedience drive out all possibility of self-initiated innovation. The core engine that has driven us successfully from 500 million to 6 billion, self-initiated innovation, is absent in our enemy.

5.5 Billion Dead - The airline snack bag

The airline snack bag is a challenge. It is tough, very tough. There seems to be no way to open it. Squeeze it, twist it, tear at it, nothing. The snack remains within, inaccessible. Until a small tear is created. Then, instantly, and sometimes messily, it completely opens. What was strong and secure is suddenly weak and fragile. Like our Civilization.

Our Civilization is a tough and resilient fabric. Part of its strength is because it is a fabric, not a hierarchy or structure. Poke a whole almost anywhere and the disrupted resources can be reacquired through a different part of the fabric. Even massive disruptions do not seem to disturb the overall system very much.

Part of the resilience is due to the cooperative self-healing response to disruption. Earthquake, tsunami, flood and hurricane release an immediate effort to repair the damage and comfort the afflicted.

But what would happen, if, during a flood, a small group of people, pretending to be just like us, snuck around and pulled down the sandbags, opened the floodgates, plowed down the levees, knocked down the dams. It would be like the small tear in the snack bag. The systems for protection and recovery would collapse and the flood would be many times as catastrophic.

Our enemy seeks to open our Civilization like a snack bag. Work at it and work at it until a small tear is created then use that tear to rip open and spill out everything. Create the catastrophe not by head-on assault, but by exploiting thousands of small tears in the fabric of Civilization.

One of the targets for small tears is self-doubt about ends. To create a thousand questions about our morality, our judgment, our righteousness, our compassion. To have us seeking balance and understanding in the face of horror. To have us hesitate, pause or back-off because we are uncertain and confused about our goals. Each of these is is a small tear, seen by our enemy as another step toward victory. If our enemy has confidence in where to go and we are lost, then we will go where they go.

This is what our enemy seeks. To use our openness, our curiosity and our tolerance against us to destroy us.

5.5 Billion Dead - Northeast summer blackout

In the summer of 2003 the power went out in much of the Northeast for a day. Very annoying and inconvenient. Then the power was restored and we continued on with our lives.

What if the power had not returned in 24 hours? What if a small group set out to disrupt the ability to return the power? What if the power cannot be turned back on?

After three days, no frozen food. After seven days, no perishable food. After ten days, no batteries or auxiliary power. No electricity means no ability to pump gasoline, no ability to pump water, no ability to process sewage.

Three days, those on life assisting care begin to die, five days, those dependent on continuing care begin to die, eight days, the disabled begin to die, ten days, the ill and infirm begin to die, fifteen days, those not strong, healthy and ferocious begin to die, 20 days, most die. Imagine New York City with no water, no sewage, no elevators, no food, no transportation, and no communication. Just ten million people all alone in a big, filthy, closet. Dying.

This is what our enemy seeks.

5.5 Billion Dead - What was life like?

Four hundred years ago there was no bucolic utopia anywhere on earth. Any faith in the noble savage returned to true relationship with the earth depends on denying harsh truths about life before Civilization.

Fall from a horse, break a wrist, lifelong cripple. Scrape an arm on rusty object, death or amputation at the shoulder. Compound fracture of leg, death. Teeth all rotted out between 30 and 40. Typhus, death; smallpox, death; tetanus, death; plague, death; mumps, crippled for life; scarlet fever, crippled for life; cholera, death; malaria, crippled for life; influenza, death; cancer, death; heart attack, death; polio, death; paralysis from injury or disease, death; blind or deaf, isolation or death; gout, crippled for life; caught in freezing rain, chills, pneumonia and death; drought, death; All disabled and elderly, death. Any born with birth defects, death; disabled or elderly, death; born with birth defects, death.

Men and women work dawn to dusk for subsistence, for survival. Lose a crop, starvation, burn down a hovel in the winter, freeze to death. In camps, villages and towns people live in the center of a sea of sewage, offal, garbage and disease. In a subsistence existence, being centered and self-actualized are absurdities.

Half of children dead by twelve, most who survive, dead by thirty. Many women die in childbirth. Those who survive must have six to eight children to assure that two have grandchildren. A stable population when most die young and few survive to produce grandchildren. Children are not the key to survival, grandchildren are. For millennia human population grew very slowly even as individual humans were prolific in their child bearing. Most died.

Our enemy seeks this bleak, obedient, subservient existence for us.

5.5 Billion Dead - Consequences of disruption

There is no possible way that a fundamentalist and totalitarian society can support the complex and dynamic fabric that currently binds us and supports us. The fabric of interdependent cooperation will disappear.

From previous experience we have expectations for what happens following a disruption:

Electrical service returns: this time it won’t, telephone service resumes: it won’t, water returns: it won’t, gasoline deliveries resume: they won’t, food deliveries resume: they won’t, sewage management resumes: it won’t. No water, no sewage, no communication, no electricity, no heat, no air conditioning, no transportation.

Those that survive will live in small communities subject to our enemy’s justice. Rape victim, death by stoning. Daughter who may have looked at the wrong boy, death by stabbing by father or brother. Mother who talks to wrong man, death by stabbing by son. Adulterous woman (only the woman,) death by stoning.

Women’s status, slave. Women’s condition, removal of genitals. No sexual expression permitted. Child’s status, slave. Child’s proper purpose, die killing infidels. Women and children disciplined by sodomy. Sex used as means of instilling fear and obedience.

There is nothing remotely benign or acceptable in the crippling and enslavement of women. There can be no accommodation of an enemy that sees sexual slavery and childhood murder as appropriate.

Our enemy embraces this.

5.5 Billion Dead - Resources

Today we extract resources very efficiently that 150 years ago were both undetectable and unreachable. The cost of pulling oil or copper or iron out of deep reserves today is less that the cost of picking up surface deposits 150 years ago. Thus, high technology detection and extraction provides us with economical resources previously unreachable.

In the beginning of the industrial era, most of the raw materials required for industrialization were in surface deposits that could be extracted with little more that wheelbarrows, picks and shovels or simple drills and barrels. All of these deposits have long been exhausted. Our extraction and processing today is dependent on a complex, high technology infrastructure. Break that infrastructure and we loose our access to all those resources. For about 100 million years. For it will take that long for the copper and iron and coal and oil to once again be deposited and churned to the surface.

Ponder carefully this last point. It only took us 400 years to move from 500 million living mostly in rural subsistence to 6 billion with many living in urban wealth. So there is an illusion that if we are hammered back 400 years we will just readjust and climb back up. Wrong.

All of the surface resources are now long exhausted. Our huge reserves of oil and gas and coal today are utterly and absolutely dependent on our very high technology extraction capabilities. Collapse the extraction technology, destroy to ability to build ten foot tires and all other associated equipment and these current resources are once again completely and absolutely inaccessible.

How long will it be until surface deposits of copper, iron and coal are once again available? How long until a simple hole in the ground can once again yield oil and gas? How long does it take the earth to churn these resources once again into our primitive grasp? 100 million years.

If we fail now to sustain that which we have created, we do not fall back 400 years, we fall back 100 million years. We are as lost as the dinosaurs.

Our enemy seeks this.

5.5 Billion Dead - Communication and continuity

If we lose electricity, we lose the ability to communicate almost all of the knowledge that we have. Our current store of knowledge is far more perishable that it would be if it were on paper. But it is not on paper, it is on CD’s and DVD’s and magnetic media. Each of these requires a high technology device to be comprehensible. Lose the device and then you have to figure out how to build lasers, linear actuators, micro-motors, digital signal processors and digital amplifiers. Eventually the information might be decoded as ones and zeros. Without a Rosetta Stone, however, there is no way to determine if the bits are music or video or programming or text. Even within a specific type of data there are many different encodings, such as with audio and video. There are thousands of these encoding maps.

“Finding Nemo” is a sequence of about 40 billion ones and zeros. As is the source code for Windows or the compiled code for Oracle database applications. Art, music, philosophy, history, applications, accounts payable, college grades, production schedules, movies, news, engineering, science, and medicine. Nothing but trillions and trillions of precisely sequenced ones and zeros. All vanish if the ability to read the ones and zeros is lost. A library with ten thousand DVD’s becomes identical to a quarry with ten thousand rocks.

If the ability to produce the decoding device is lost, then all the encoded information is lost. Our civilization becomes as inaccessible as the Anasazi are to us. We are now a civilization without a written record. In the first month without electricity 99% of all of our knowledge will be lost. In a decade all of our knowledge will vanish. Beethoven, Bach, Twain, Einstein, Hawkings, Monet, Mandela, Gandhi, Lincoln, all gone, vanished forever.

Our enemy seeks this.

5.5 Billion Dead - Touching the face of God

As Civilization, we are about to embark on a truly amazing venture. To determine if we can establish, on the South Pole of the Moon, a mining and refining facility that will provide fuel and materials for the rapid exploration of the Solar System. The fuel produced on the Moon will cost a fraction of the cost of fuel boosted up through the Earth’s dense atmosphere. Vast quantities of fuel can then be easily sent to low Earth orbit at low cost to then be used for fast, high boost trips to the Moon. From these low cost lunar orbits, missions can be assembled and fueled for fast transit to Mars and the rest of the Solar System. The doors to the heavens will be wide open.

This effort will require a fraction of the social investment required 400 years ago to manually extract coal from the shallow mines of Germany and England. Fuel from the Moon at lower social cost and investment than coal from Earth 400 years ago. We stand at the doorstep of this accomplishment. To travel the heavens at lower cost than it once took to travel the oceans.

Perhaps it is arrogance, perhaps it is grandiose, but Civilization seeks a continuing and expanding dialog with God, here on earth and outward to all of creation. We are accomplishing all of this; we are touching the face of creation, whether in DNA or the stars themselves. All of this will be lost forever to humanity, perhaps eternally, as far as we know, for all of the universe. Lost if our enemy prevails.

We seek dialog with creation. Our enemy seeks subservience.

5.5 Billion Dead - September 11, 2001 costs

9/11 is beginning to seem far away, a distant event with only historical impact. We need to remind ourselves what happened and, more importantly, what almost happened. For what happened on 9/11 was not what was intended.

The financial impact of 9/11 seems to have eluded us. Partly because the human loss and destruction was so horrific and partly because the financial costs are dispersed throughout society instead of being concentrated in a few smoking ruins.

Estimates of the financial loss approach one trillion dollars. What has the theft and destruction of one trillion dollars cost us? What is the magnitude of this obliterated wealth?

One trillion dollars is $4,000 for every man, women and child in the United States. Invested at a modest rate, it throws off, at 5%, 50 billion dollars a year in continuing income. 50 billion dollars a year provides the funding for one million teachers. 50 billion dollars a year provides full ride scholarships for 2 million college students. 50 billion dollars a year provides the social security income for 3 million retirees.

One trillion dollars builds 4 million new homes. One trillion dollars cleans up every single superfund site.

One trillion dollars is the wealth created by one year of hard work by ten million workers. Stolen, obliterated, gone forever. By our enemy’s action, by our enemy’s choice.

5.5 Billion Dead - September 11, 2001 intentions

We lost 3,000 people. It has taken us years of hard work to recover our economy and to begin to rebuild what we lost.

But what if our enemy’s intentions had been met? What if the planes had flown forty minutes later and hit twenty floors lower?

Thirty to fifty thousand would have died in New York. A significant portion of the international financial community would have been lost forever.

If the plane that hit the Pentagon had hit from a different direction we would have lost thousands in the Pentagon including most of our senior military leadership.

The plane that crashed in Pennsylvania would have continued on to the Capital and destroyed the Capital and killed many of our legislative leaders.

We would have been faced with sixty thousand dead including most of our military and legislative leadership and much of our financial leadership.

Instead of one trillion in lost wealth we would have lost ten trillion dollars forever.

That is what our enemy intended. That is what our enemy intends.

This time we recovered. Next time, if our enemy’s intentions are fulfilled, we may not.

5.5 Billion Dead - Small town

So, says the resident of the small and distant town, what does it mean to me if the city collapses?

If you are in a small town far away from the big city and you see the destruction of that city, what happens to you and your community? Initially, very little. If the big city is downwind and far away, the only immediate loss is the loss of television. Then gradually, over a few days, other resources begin to disappear. Electricity, then gas, then water, then sanitation, then food, then health care. Until, after a few weeks, nothing remains that connects to the civilization supported by that distant city. No heat, no water, no sanitation, no health care, no food, no communication. The fabric of civilization is gone and suddenly that small town is an isolated subsistence rural village. With very limited skills and very limited resources. Instantly vulnerable to plague, pestilence and famine. Homes become hovels; existence becomes, once again, nasty, brutish and short. This will become the world of small communities if our enemy prevails.

Add to this existence the imposition of a fundamentalist and totalitarian government that cripples and enslaves women and raises children to be martyrs. A grim, primitive, illiterate and ignorant existence with all knowledge of this Civilization eradicated.

This is what our enemy seeks.

5.5 Billion Dead - Cacophony

Armstrong Williams, Angela Davis, John Conyers, Alan Keyes, Jesse Jackson, Cynthia McKinney, Shelby Stelle, Barack Obama, Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas, Danny Glover, Sheila Jackson Lee, Barbara Lee, Walter Williams, JC Watts, Charles Rangell, Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton, Harold Ford, Thomas Sowall, Julian Bond, Bobby Rush, Harry Belafonte, Larry Elder, Leonard Pitts, Charles Barkley, Condelezza Rice, Ron Paige, Oprah Winfrey, Kweisi Mfume, Colin Powell.

These are the voices of America. Raucous, conflicting, loud, vibrant, contentious, liberating. The voice of Americans contending with values, organization, rights, power, jobs and education.

Where is the voice of our enemy’s fellow religious adherents? We have a huge cacophony of voices from the many communities within our culture. Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, European all have many voices, often directly contradictory. The debate is loud, continuing, sometimes thoughtful, and often ridiculous. But there is continual debate.

Not with our enemy’s fellow travelers. Silence. Not one leader who stands up with a clear and forceful declaration of support for our Civilization. Who openly condemns terrorism and fanaticism? Why not?

Only two possible explanations:

1. The forces of terror are so deeply embedded in the Muslim community that no one dares speak out for fear of deadly reprisals against themselves, their family, their friends and community, and their family and friends that remain back in the Middle East. Pervasive and unrelenting fear that drives all dissent, even all comment, underground. Perhaps an indication of the coming world for all of us if our enemy succeeds.

2. Our enemy’s fellow travelers, in very large numbers, freely support and affirm the actions of the enemy. They do not speak out against terrorism because they support the goals of terrorism. They await the day when they can subjugate our Civilization to their will. They seek an America ruled by their religious precepts. They have no concept nor care that the America they seek is a dead America. That most of them, and most of us, will die.

Without the cacophony, we are no longer Americans. Without the cacophony, we are dead.

5.5 Billion Dead - Conceit

There exists within our Civilization an immense conceit. It is damaging to ourselves when we use it against ourselves. It is disastrous when applied to our enemy.

The conceit is that I am so powerful, so influential, so dominant, that any time any one challenges or opposes me, it is because I have not behaved properly, I have not been kind enough, understanding enough, diplomatic enough, accommodating enough. The conceit says that only if I can negotiate well enough, concede kindly enough, love deeply enough, my enemy will become my friend, my enemy will recognize and acknowledge my kindness, my understanding, my compassion, and will therefore, freely bend to my will and behave the way that I want my enemy to behave.

This conceit is deadly nonsense. It will get us killed. It is the conceit that had a woman at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago climbing over the fence to pet a wolf, only to be very badly mauled. It is the conceit in Palo Alto that is outraged over the shooting of a cougar that is stalking children. The conceit that says we did not treat the cougar with respect and compassion. If we had, it would have chosen to not eat our children.

Within our political structure this conceit takes the form of attacking our political leadership when our enemy attacks us. The firm belief that the reason our enemy attacked is that our political opponents behaved badly and therefore were responsible for the attack. This is the same attitude that condemns the women who is raped when she walks outside at night, that condemns the storeowner with desirable products when he is robbed. It both assigns responsibility to the victim and diminishes the power of the victim by denying the victim the ability to assume responsibility through action, only through passivity. The poor you, poor me defense. It is a disastrous approach when used within our culture; it is catastrophic when applied to our enemy.

What we must understand, must accept, is that our enemy sees no difference, zero difference, between Fidel Castro and Ronald Reagan, between Jacques Chirac and Ariel Sharon. All leadership and all followers in our Civilization are equally infidels and are to be converted by force, enslaved or killed. No exceptions. If one of these leaders acts in a way that benefits our enemy, then they are seen and exploited as useful idiots. Useful, but still the enemy. Lies, deception, threats, accommodation, are all used with but one aim, total and absolute destruction of Civilization.

Our conceit about our own power, our own wonderfulness, will kill us.

5.5 Billion Dead - Finality

Our enemy seeks our death, our impoverishment, and our enslavement. Our enemy is a parasitic cancer intent on destroying us and, in the process, destroying much of itself. The one billion affiliated with our enemy’s beliefs will also suffer mightily in the collapse of Civilization precipitated by our enemy. They too will be greatly diminished and severely impoverished.

Dealing with this enemy as if it can be contained or constrained is as deadly and foolhardy as saying we are going to eradicate all of the death camps except Treblinka, that we are going to free all of China except Nanjing, free all of the slaves except in Mississippi, remove all of the tumor except that in the left lung.

The only survivable approach is to dedicate ourselves to eradication. To so break the will of our enemy that those remaining recognize the futility and tragedy of their course and accept the necessity of a new direction.

At this time we do not yet know if our enemy is a small and fanatical part of a larger peaceful movement or if our enemy is but the point of the spear aimed at our Civilization’s heart. What we must say is that in either case, we will destroy the point of the spear. If that is what is necessary to free others, then we will gladly free them. If that only temporarily breaks the point until others are pushed forward to continue the effort, then we must, absolutely must, be prepared to say, this cannot stand, this too must be abolished. We have successfully abolished other affronts to human decency; we must be prepared to abolish this. To do otherwise is to comfort and feed our cancer. To nurture our own destruction.

Our enemy seeks to seduce us into aiding in our own destruction.

5.5 Billion Dead - Serious power

We are afraid of ourselves. We are so accustomed to our own failures that we seek, very aggressively, to limit and reduce our own power. We assume that if we have power, we will misuse it to the detriment of others and ourselves. This assumption about our own untrustworthiness and immorality extends from how we treat families and children to how we treat our power in the world. From trust in parents to trust in our political, business and military leadership. Trust no one.

The primary expression of this fear is the drive to disarm ourselves, to render ourselves safe by diminishing our power. Since we cannot be trusted, we must not be armed. Since we cannot be trusted, we must be pacified and made dependent on the greater wisdom of others, whether the other is our local police or the other is some ill-defined international structure. Above all else, we must submit our power to the greater power of the greater authority.

This approach creates a huge vulnerability for our enemy to exploit. We are disarmed so that we cannot hurt ourselves, therefore, we cannot defend ourselves.

If we are serious about the war on terror, if we are serious about confronting and eliminating the threats to our Civilization, then we must trust ourselves with our own defense. An immediate move to arm, train and deputize all legally qualified adults would place a huge standing army at our enemy’s doorstep. This would be a militia in the best sense. A return to the concepts behind the founding our country.

If every legally qualified adult on an airplane were issued a baton, then the ability of anyone to disrupt the flight would be greatly reduced. The plane would be full of sky marshals, as was the case in the two successful efforts to thwart a highjacking. However, this would also mean trusting our fellow citizens. Just like we used to before we became so afraid of ourselves.

Our enemy's task would be much more difficult if confronted with a well-armed and determined Civilization. Our enemy celebrates every time our fear of ourselves proves greater than our fear of our enemy. Every time we back off of confrontation because of our fear of being called racist or fear of not respecting diversity. Everytime we disarm ourselves because we fear ourselves.

Our enemy seeks to divide us by playing upon our fears of ourselves. Our enemy explicitly exploits our fear of our own worst impulses.

This is what our enemy seeks.

5.5 Billion Dead - What our enemy seeks

Our enemy seeks to destroy Civilization. To drive us back to a subsistence existence with death, once again, as our daily companion. To a time when villages would not survive a harsh winter, when influenza would claim half of the children, when simple injuries meant death or lifelong impairment. To a time when women were slaves, denied their sexuality, abused and killed without recourse. When children were chattel laborers, exploited both for their sexual availability and their ability to mindlessly follow the demands of adults, even unto their own deaths.

Our enemy seeks to destroy five thousand years of history and growth, five thousand years of culture, of science, of religious insight and understanding.

If our enemy succeeds, we will be no more. It will be 100 million years before another opportunity arises to once again touch the face of God.

In all of space and all of time, this is the only place and the only time that we know where the magnificence and wonder of this creation has been studied. We are ferociously growing our Civilization, our wealth, our knowledge, our reach, our understanding, our art, our celebration of this great and wonderful creation. We are about to step off our small world and begin to use the boundless resources of our solar system and the universe itself as part of this celebration. We can bring excitement, anticipation, comfort, health and security to almost all of the people of earth. We can bring this brawling, contentious, challenging, difficult global village into a dynamic creative enterprise that allows almost all to contribute and almost all to benefit.

We now hold God’s promise in our hands. To treasure and celebrate, or to fear and forfeit.

Our enemy seeks fear and forfeit.

Therefore, before every debate on education or science or space or art or welfare or entertainment or style or trend or medicine or rights or entitlements, we must first ask and answer:

What does our enemy call 5.5 billion dead and 500 million impoverished and enslaved?


5.5 billion need not and shall not die

How can we achieve victory over our enemy, militant Islam?

We have experiences that can help guide the way.

Christians have burned heretics at the stick, tortured the demon possessed to death, decapitated religious opponents and launched wars of conversion and elimination on the heathen. These no longer happen and are practices now repudiated.

In the 1930's, there were millions of Nazi and fascist adherents, tens of millions of fellow travelers and hundreds of millions of indifferent observers. Ten years later most of these people still lived, but the advocacy was gone.

Communist totalitarianism was expanding as a dominate global reality holding billions of people. It is now gone or in retreat.

Victory can be achieved by proving to the Islamic militants that terrorism not only does not work, but that terrorism severely damages Islam itself. Victory requires also that Muslims as a whole adopt changes that will let Muslims live comfortably and in trust with others. These core changes are:

1. Jihad as the personal journey of spiritual growth. Not forced conversion or death.
2. Sharia as self-discipline. Not secular law applied to all.
3. Dhimmitude eliminated. No expectation that non-Muslims serve Muslims.
4. Hudna repudiated. The truce must be accepted as permanent.

Christians successfully repudiated behavior that today we would call terrorist. Nazi beliefs that terrorized the world were eliminated. Communist totalitarianism dissipated. Hope has triumphed before. Hope can triumph again. However, each of these victories took long, dangerous and very hard work. This time too we can look forward with hope to victory. Not containment, not diminishment, but victory.

The first step to victory is accepting what we have at stake. Everything.

Copyright 2004, Creag Banta. All rights reserved.

Posted by creagb at 11:21 AM

September 30, 2004

Pyramids of Excellence - Winners

When we think of competition, we think of winners and losers. We celebrate winners, we denigrate losers. A silver medal is a loss. Final four and out is a loss. National League Playoffs is a loss. This perspective, however, diminishes the richness and depth of the competitive experience.

There is an apprehension, even a revulsion, at competition within our society. It is tolerated it certain unimportant arenas, like football. It is even tolerated in some critical areas where there is a recognition of the mandatory requirement for unusual skill and competency, such as neurosurgery or space flight.

But in most areas competition is frowned upon as detrimental to the psychic health of the participants since, by definition, most participants will be losers.

Breaking this perception and then building a healthy competitive society requires a reorientation on the meaning of winning and losing.

The common imagery is of a triumphant victor standing atop a pile of bodies. All defeated, all vanquished. All fodder to the appetite of the victor. Losers feed winners. Winners consume losers. Lion and antelope.

Humans do not want to be antelope. They do not want to participate in an activity where their energy and skill and effort is used and discarded. So, when given the option, humans back out of competition perceived as exploitive or threatening.

This is not the proper picture of human competition. Competition needs to be redefined as a form of stewardship. As a combined effort to lift everybody to a higher level of performance. With the top performers standing on the shoulders of everyone else in the pyramid. Everyone who competes holds up those who compete to the next level.

The person who runs the mile in 3:50, thereby driving the winner to a 3:49 win, has made a core contribution to the winner. He drove the winner to excel and exceed what he would otherwise have accomplished.

Thus, the competitive environment can be seen differently. It does not have winners and losers, it has winners and drivers. It has those who win and those that drive them hard to achieve the level of excellence that accomplished the win.

In each competitive arena, we can identify different levels of contribution to success. Each is critical.

The winner is the person who comes in first, today, maybe tomorrow. Who so excels that they are recognized and affirmed and rewarded for achievement.

The driver is the person who pushed the winner so hard that in order to win the winner had to reach extraordinary levels of competence to come in ahead of the driver. Every driver has the capacity to be next week’s winner. Every driver is also driven toward their own level of excellence by the winner of the competition.

The pacer also plays a crucial role in the eventual rush to excellence of the drivers and winners. Pacers are those who compete strongly enough to be critical to the competition, but who do not have the talent, skill or drive necessary to be a winner themselves. They are the NBA players who do not start and only play when a starter needs to sit, is injured or fouls out.

Pacers run with the winners and drivers for three out of four laps. Pacers are the practice squad, the second string, the utility infielder. Without pacers there can be no game, or the game is greatly diminished.

Pacers also determine the outcome. A second string cornerback can knock down a star wide receiver, a low seed basketball team can eliminate a high seed. Any winning team that does not treat every opponent as an excellent opponent will get beaten by a team with less raw talent and skill. Every playoff season has the wrecks of strong teams defeated by less capable teams.

The competitive pyramid is a giant human pyramid with each level standing on the level below. The broader and deeper the lower level, the higher the pyramid can reach.

Sam paces Charlie in the elementary schoolyard basketball court. Charlie drives Jamal to excellence. Jamal makes the middle school team and drives Shawn to excellence. Shawn makes the Junior Varsity and driver Hap to make the Varsity. Hap is driven by Mark and overcomes Mark’s ferocity to gain a scholarship. Hap then drives Devon to excellence on the Freshman team. Devon moves to Varsity and drives Isreal to all star performance. Isreal is recruited to the NBA and joins the practice squad. On the practice squad he drives Michael to extraordinary performance. Michael plays in the NBA as a backup guard. Michael drives Thomas to outstanding performance. Thomas becomes a superstar starter.

Thomas is now standing on the shoulders of Sam, Charlie, Jamal, Shawn, Hap, Mark, Devon, Isreal and Michael and the ten thousand other pacers and drivers who drove him to excellence at the top of the pyramid. Thomas would never have achieved his level of skill and accomplishment without being driven and paced by all of those who supported him in his success.

This pattern applies to every area of human endeavor. If you want extraordinary performance and the contribution to human experience expressed through such performance, then we must honor the contribution of every pacer, every driver, and every winner. All contribute and all will reach the highest level of achievement and contribution through the fierce competition that drives to excellence.

For the best doctors, compete. For the best teachers, compete. For the best dentists, compete. For the best congressional leaders, compete. For the best breakfast cereal, compete. Everyone benefits. Everyone wins. Therefore, celebrate everyone who joins the competitive arena, whether as a pacer, a driver or a winner.

Posted by creagb at 11:43 AM

September 29, 2004

The Pyramid of Excellence and Genetics

Any endeavor has a pyramid of excellence. A winnowing process that takes every interested person in at the bottom and then selectively moves exceptionally qualified participants to the next level. Each level has ever-smaller numbers of skilled participants competing for the level above. At the top level are a very few people who have successfully out-performed all of those at the lower levels.

One of the key characteristics of the pyramid is that those at the top are dependent on the quality of those below to achieve their level of skill and competency. Ferocious competition demands more skill and more commitment to succeed at each level.

One of the most successful current pyramids of excellence is the black sports pyramid. Blacks dominate the top levels of professional sports way beyond any proportional representation formula.

A key characteristic of success at professional sports is that it is colorblind. Either you can catch and throw or you cannot. Race and ethnic background do not matter; all that matters is raw skill and competence on the field. The result is that the one arena where blacks clearly dominate is the one arena where race matters least.

There are two explanations for this result and both lead logically to conclusions that are untenable within our dominant perceptions of race. The first explanation is that black dominance is due to genetics, thin legs, large lungs, and wide arm span. Characteristics from birth that are immutable. The white men can’t jump explanation. The second explanation is the pyramid of excellence. That talented and ambitious young blacks focus their energy on the one clearly identified area that richly rewards excellence. This creates enormous competitive pressure and a very aggressive selection process. Rising to the next level at each level requires extraordinary commitment, skill and talent.

If the explanation is race, then this leads to the conclusion that other human characteristics that drive to excellence might also be race based. Like being able to do math or build and maintain strong leadership relationships. If this is true, that genetically whites have a head start in logical reasoning and team leadership, then the conclusion can only be that there will be more white quarterbacks, accountants and presidents. If genetics drives excellence as a forward or tight end, then there has to be a possibility that genetics drives excellence as a manager or scientist. Blacks do the physical stuff, whites, the leadership stuff and Asians the thinking stuff.

If the explanation is the pyramid of excellence, then the reason blacks dominate is the attraction of the rewards and the ferocity of the competition. Level playing field, fierce competition, and great reward. The formula for success in a free society. However, if this is true for sports, then there is no reason that it should not also be true for accounting, politics, teaching and engineering. Thus the criteria for black success would not be dumbing down, affirmative action and preferences, but pyramids of excellence that validate competition in other areas in the same manner as happens in sports.

Each of these conclusions contradicts current social policy. Our culture does not accept racial dominance and denigration, but our culture also does not accept the value of hard competition with great rewards. Except for professional sports and perhaps entertainment.

Clearly, our society is not going to accept the proposition that unusually successful people get that way because of the luck of genetics. That leads to a caste system, knowing your station, accepting your place at the table, white man’s burden, back of the bus. Smug condescension on being blessed for dominance, weary despair at being burdened with the hardships of life.

On the other hand, there is resistance to admitting that high standards, hard work, dedication, tough competition and great rewards lead to high performance and high rewards in all areas, not just sports. Because the conclusion can only be that a ferociously aggressive educational environment will produce excellence across the board, not just in sports. That if black schools supported science fairs and debate clubs and theater and chess clubs with the same intensity as they support basketball, then a huge number of black students would emerge with great skill and dedication to these other pyramids of excellence.

So, the choice is simple. We have in our faces, every professional game we watch, the clear evidence of the results of a pyramid of excellence. Way over representation of blacks at the professional level where race counts for zero and skill and dedication count for everything. Either this occurs because, back in Africa, blacks chased down antelopes while whites in Europe shuffled through the snow looking for roots, or, this occurs because professional sports is one of the few areas with a pyramid of excellence that rewards accomplishment regardless of race, thus attracting smart, competitive, competent blacks in numbers way beyond proportional representation.

Bet on the latter. Talent flows to opportunity. Close off opportunity in other areas and the talent will be focused on the only expressions available. Convince someone that they cannot succeed as an accountant or engineer, refuse to provide the tools and environment to nurture success as an accountant or engineer and that hungry and talented youngster is going to the park and shoot hoops.

These inaccessible opportunities are a combination of perception and preparation. This is actually a Catch 22. Not supporting education because of ineptitude resulting in ineptitude due to lousy education. No perception of the ability to climb onto the pyramid of excellence for engineering or law or management, so focus on the accessible pyramid, sports.

The conclusion; blacks don’t excel in sports because their ancestors chased down antelope, they excel in sports because it is one of the few accessible areas where ambition, hard work, dedication, skill and talent drive great rewards. If this is true for sports, then there is no reason why it should not also be true for every other available endeavor.

Posted by creagb at 05:29 AM

September 28, 2004

The Pyramid of Excellence

A discourse on race and excellence. Or, why equal opportunity will mean that blacks will not continue to dominate sports.

Every activity with a pyramid of excellence has certain common characteristics:

The flatter the pyramid, the less distance between the top and the bottom, the less difference between pay at the top and pay at the bottom. The higher the pyramid, the greater the gap between rewards at the top and bottom.

For accountants, entry level pay is adequate while top pay is attractive but not huge. For point guards, entry level pay is zero while top pay is stratospheric. A top accountant will be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year while a top point guard will be paid tens of millions a year.

The deeper the pyramid, the higher the level of accomplishment and compensation of those at the top.

Simple observation:

The black sports pyramid of excellence is very deep as this is one of the few avenues currently accepted as viable for substantial success. This means that there is intense competition from elementary school on to gain access to the next level of excellence. The result is that those who reach each level have excelled in a very competitive environment and thus have highly developed skills. The people who succeed in reaching the pinnacle have benefited mightily from all those below them who constantly challenged them to excel.

The reality of this very competitive process is that most of those who do not get to the top will end up at the bottom of some other pyramid. That all the massive investment in time and energy and skill in attempting to achieve the next level will have detracted from gaining competency in other areas.

Explictly, this means that devoting enough time and energy to basketball to have a shot at the next level probably means not devoting enough time and energy to mathematics to have a shot at becoming an accountant or teacher.

If the odds of becoming a successful accountant, teacher, engineer, programmer or account executive are seen as low, then the only available outlet for the drive for competency and excellence will be one of the high pyramid areas, such as professional sports or entertainment.

As opportunities in other areas become more credible and accessible, there will be subtle but significant shift away from high challenge endeavors toward more achievable goals. The goal for someone who focuses on mathematics is an excellent shot at accounting or teaching. A good living, respect for contributing to others and some small shot a high income. Almost no shot at the big bucks.

The big buck arena presents a tough choice. Absolutely big bucks, but also high risk of bitter disappointment through injury or close, but no cigar, performance. A forward who cannot get recognized will end up driving a taxi. However, an accountant who does not make partner will still live well and comfortably.

Thus, as other areas become more accessible, the level of competition in the high challenge sports pyramid of excellence will gradually drop. Not as many young people will focus single-mindedly on becoming a guard, tight end or shortstop. Since the competition on the way up will be somewhat reduced, the level of excellence required to reach the next level will also drop. Those reaching the top and achieving professional level competence will not have traveled as far and faced as ferocious a competitive selection process.

Result, more and more black athletes will come up through a selection process that is similar to that of white athletes. Most young people will have chosen some other path as they will have seen that the probable rewards from that other path are much greater.

If this point of view is valid, then, over the next two decades, the percentage of black athletes at the very top of the game will drop as the selection pyramid becomes similar for all athletes.

One of the ironies of this is that the areas in which blacks most excel are those in which raw talent, ability, discipline and skill count the most and background and race count the least. The one thing that does not exist on the basketball court or football field is affirmative action. Either you can accomplish the job or you are out.

So the area most dominated by black excellence is that in which being black counts the least.

When other areas are also seen as credible expressions of black excellence, then talent and ambition will flow to those also. The inevitable impact of this is to diminish the current extraordinary pyramid of excellence that drives so many talented and ambitious blacks into sports. Result; more black engineers, fewer black linebackers.

Posted by creagb at 03:37 AM