Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Good News: War is Obsolete
The Bad News: "Conflict Without End"

In his new book, "The Utility of Force," General Rupert Smith, who served over forty years in the British Army, posits that conventional war--army vs. army and nation vs. nation--is a historical relic, and that since the end of WWII the asymmetrical, guerrilla war of occupier vs. insurgency has become the new paradigm of conflict.

Korea, Algeria, Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Iraq: behold the war that is not war.
In the new paradigm, General Smith argues, war does not lead to victory and peace. Rather, confrontation leads to conflict, which subsides into confrontation. The weapons, instead of cruise missiles, are machetes, AK-47 assault rifles and suicide bombers. Only carefully defined and tightly intertwined political, diplomatic and military missions can hope to be effective, if only temporarily. That’s another feature of the new paradigm: No war, but no peace either, only conflict without end.
And at the Pentagon?
Even though today the Armed Forces can't recruit enough soldiers or adequately equip those already in uniform, the Pentagon is committing itself to massive corporate contracts for new high-tech weapons systems slated to come on-line years, even decades, from now, guaranteed only to enrich their makers.
A sampling of the cool new toys:
The same Army that can't provide the basics of modern war is now promising the Future Combat Systems network (FCS), a "family of systems" that will enable soldiers to "perceive, comprehend, shape, and dominate the future battlefield at unprecedented levels." The FCS network will consist of a "family" of 18 manned and unmanned ground vehicles, air vehicles, sensors, and munitions, including: eight new, super-armored, super-strong ground vehicles to replace current tanks, infantry carriers, and self-propelled howitzers; four different planes and drones that soldiers can fly by remote control; and several "unmanned" ground vehicles. And of course eventually robot armies.
The Air Force wants new generations of fighters and bombers that will fly into low earth orbit and change color and shape, all so that it can remain technologically ahead of itself in a surreal, multi-billion-dollar game of Chase Your Own Tail. And of course the Navy wants stealth ships and the top brass want space weapons most of all--what a surprise, that.

Apparently, WW III will look something like a cross between World of Warcraft and the battle scenes from "The Terminator." Wouldn't it be ironic if it were to be waged by President Schwarzenegger?

The Founding Fathers were indeed wise men. I used to think it was an anachronistic folly, but only the Second Amendment will keep us free.

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