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On war

t.rev is cranking out some excellent stuff in the comment thread below.

In a war, you have a large set of actors and a much larger set of actions taken by said actors. Some actions will be heroic, some will be atrocities, many will be just grim violence, and the vast majority will be mind-numbingly tedious.

Some actions will be essentially unobserved (no one will survive them), most will be observed by a handful, and a tiny fraction will be observed and communicated on a wider scale.

Each side in a war will have what you could call an ‘atrocity-averseness’ factor, which is going to be dependent on two things: the expected number of observers of a given atrocity, and the damage that a given perceived atrocity will cause to that side (in morale, diplomacy, etc.)

I would argue that the US has an extremely high atrocity-averseness factor, for reasons that I think are obvious (or deserve a different essay, anyway).

And he goes on from there. I don’t normally go “hey, look at the comment thread!” but a lot of what he’s saying about the impossibility of stamping out all atrocities are things I’d like to say, except he already said ‘em better.

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