Friday, January 14, 2005

Some simple number about military occupation

The occupation numbers are a little big deceiving. Look at it this way: How big a standing army can a nation afford? Most nations can't do much over 1% of the population. For the USA that would be an army of less than 3 million soldiers. We have a great economy, we could do 6 million if we wanted to. We've done a lot more than that but it was for world wars, not something we'd sustain. To run a successful occupation, though, we move in enough solders that they're 2% of the population (1:50) or 2.5% (1:40). If they wanted to raise an army to match that it would be hard for them even if they weren't under occupation. 1:50 is overwhelming force. Occupy at that level for 10 years and more than 1% of the women are likely to marry american soldiers and go to america.

What percent of our population can we have occupying other nations? 1%? Then we can't use that method to occupy more than about 300 million people total. But 1% of our population is much more than 1% of our young men. We'd be having a whole lot of foreign brides, and a whole lot of young american women would be left marrying foreigners. This isn't a bad thing unless you have something against immigration and cultural diffusion. But it isn't trivial. It's a great big cultural thing, shaping the genes and the culture of future generations of americans as well as the places we occupy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There was indeed something miraculous about the way in which less than a hundred thousand soldiers and administrators held in thrall two hundred and fifty million Indians."

1:02 PM, January 19, 2005  
Blogger J Thomas said...

Yes! I've seen various explanations. One is that india was already an empire, hundreds of languages and lots of cultures held together partly by a dominant religion that supported a governing caste. And poor communications. It worked for a long time.

But we came in and promised democracy for iraq. And we look weak, except for the airstrikes. We point guns at iraqis on the street like we're afraid of them, and we shoot at cars that get within 30 meters of our vehicles because we're afraid of them. It doesn't provide that air of inevitability that a workable occupation should.

4:56 AM, January 20, 2005  

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