What Worth is a Life?

Crush mentioned before that there isn’t a single Afghan worth an American life on Blackfive. I think there’s a lot of such sentiments floating around given current conditions in Afghanistan. In fact, it was the same way in Iraq before the Surge, except it was mostly Democrats and Leftists carrying the torch of “iraqis are worth a damn given how corrupt they are“. The Left would know, since they are corrupt to the tune of several trillion dollars, coincidentally.

Minus the whole cultural and socio-economic chauvinism thing, there’s another aspect here of import that I will write a bit about.

No single nation-entity can survive and prosper simply based upon their own internal resources. Eventually they will need external help, whether it comes from the brain drain of other nations, resource trade/extraction, military alliances, or technological joint research. America, after all, didn’t tell the physicists from Germany, including Einstein, that no German was worth the life of an America. They didn’t tell them that, to their face or behind their backs, because America needed those Brains to work on the nuclear bomb or a whole shat ton of Americas would be dying in a nuclear holocaust. Even the German physicists still working for the Nazis were doing their part to stall and corrupt the R and D process. Maybe they could be motivated to save more American lives if somebody told them their life wasn’t worth a single American’s, after all. It should work right? Not really.


The point is, short sighted people think they can do everything by themselves. Real leaders understand that complex problems require complex resource allocation, which includes diversification and broad flexibility. Humans are simply another resource in this view. Whether American or Afghan, Sufi or Christian, all are resources that can be utilized to win victory in war.

It is the nearsighted, the culturally parochial, that does not understand what it takes to win with the least amount of resources expended, with the least amount of time invested, and with the greatest chance for future victories that it is possible to have. They think an immediate victory, a tactical victory, is all that matters. They don’t see into the future because they don’t prepare and plan for it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Humans are going to be around having conflicts and wars until we become extinct. There’s no need to rush to victory with short sighted tactical goals while paying no attention to logistics, resource diversification, or strategies encompassing decision cycles lasting several years if not decades.

There will always be a next enemy to fight. And we can’t kill them all. Not that we won’t, but can’t. Even if we depopulate the Arabic world, we’d still need to drop a few nukes on say, Berkley, to get things done. And then we’ll need to spread to Latin America, cause they got some cancerous growths there that needs to be cut. You see? There’s no end of it. So there’s no need to rush out and vaporize whatever you think is of immediate risk and danger now. There’s always the next enemy and war around the corner. And to expend all the vital resources on this one, makes you weak and vulnerable to the next guy up on the chain.


After all, Sun Tzu knew that China was a big place. Even if he won several victories in a row, there would still be plenty of fortified gates and squared off cities to take. Since he was not omniscient, he could never know how many battles he would have to fight to win and not get killed. So he had to husband his resources as much as he could. He had to expend as little as he could to get as much as he could. He had to also ensure that if there was a local resource he could make use of, then it was far better to take it and use it than to wait on supply convoys that may or may not get there in time (or at all).

And he understand something very special. When he thought of resources, he did not just think of food and silver, but also of men (and women). Those were just as much a resource as anything else. He would never have said that the lives in an indigenous region he was occupying or conquering was not worth a single one of his soldiers’ lives. For he knew beyond the shadow of doubt, that when it comes to human resources, one life is often just as good as another. It was far better to have as many and as varied a resource base as you could get, rather than hope you won’t need something you lack.

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3 Comments on “What Worth is a Life?”

  1. Ellie Light Says:

    Please explain why the pacification of Afghanistan is worth the expenditure of American lives and treasure? Have you served there? Do you believe these people will renounce the traditions of centuries for “democracy?”

  2. ymarsakar Says:

    “Please explain why the pacification of Afghanistan is worth the expenditure of American lives and treasure?”

    Same reason why the Civil War was worth it, even though people fought it for stupid reasons, at the time.

  3. ymarsakar Says:

    I don’t want them to renounce their traditions for democracy. We’ve seen with Obama what “democracy” provides to people.

    Yet Obama is still not as bad as centuries of violence in Afghanistan.

    I don’t want to remake and break Afghanistan culture. I want to give them better security than they have, without destroying their ancient traditions, customs, and beliefs.

    You won’t ever hear Obama doing or thinking that about America, I can assure you of that.

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