Saturday, May 21, 2005

War as a Piece of Cake

A remnant of my former employer has announced successful field tests of technology that can "safely detonate" remote controlled bombs of the sort that have killed most of our forces in Iraq.

I'm all for saving lives, and if lives are saved by exploding improvised explosive devices (IEDs) while people are still at a safe distance, then go for it. But as former war correspondent Chris Hedges has tried to make us understand, no bombing is "surgical," and neither will be a method of prematurely detonating bombs to save our forces. Because they aren't going off at Yuma Proving Ground or in some simulation. They're exploding on public roads and in crowded streets.

Back in the shock and awe days, on NOW with Bill Moyers, Hedges was talking about plans to unleash 3,000 precision guided missiles on Iraq in 48 hours. He could just as well have been commenting on the latest announcement:

"[O]nce you unleash the 'dogs of war' and I know this from every war I've ever covered, war has a force of its own. It's not surgical. We talk about taking out Saddam Hussein. Once you use the blunt instrument of war, it has all sorts of consequences when you use violence on that scale that you can't anticipate. I'm not opposed to the use of force. But force always has to be a last resort because those who wield force become tainted or contaminated by it. And one of the things that most frightens me about the moment our nation is in now, is that we've lost touch with the notion of what war is."

We have a slightly greater sense two years later, but it is still a notion competing with the myths of glory, noble causes and short wars that can taint all of us, especially those removed from the reality of combat.

During my days in the military industrial complex, I helped engineers depict the performance of weapon systems. For one sweet little number, I developed a diagram showing the weapon's Pk, which stands for probability of kill. Stylized shock waves radiated from the site of the explosion. At varying distances were icons for aircraft on landing strips, in hangars and behind revetments. Oil depots, ammo dumps, buildings and armored tanks. And, of course, a solider icon. Never a woman or child icon.

Those icons helped us all rationalize. The bomb was for the fuel storage, so the tanks and personnel carriers couldn't attack. It was for knocking out the airstrips and the aircraft on the ground, so the enemy pilots never got up in the air. It could knock out a radar or communications station without a direct hit. It wasn't necessarily for killing people; it was for stopping the bad guys from killing the good guys.

Yeah, that's it.

The weapon was originally developed to clear jungle landing pads in Vietnam, but it had also proven devastatingly effective against any life in the vicinity. Older editors told me of seeing a test film in which monkeys were killed, and they didn't recommend a repeat screening. So I translated the engineer's data into an antiseptic graphic showing theoretical Pk, which sounds like "piece of cake" the first time you hear it spoken.

I'd like to believe the weapon wasn't being tested on monkeys. That they just happened to be there, but then, it hardly matters to the monkeys. As Pliny the Elder said: "Small boys throw stones at frogs in jest. But, the frogs do not die in jest. The frogs die in earnest."

I'm sure the people working on this IED-buster believe they are doing important work to protect our troops. They are working hard to get it into the field soon. (In the reported test, it succeeded only 75% of the time.) But I wonder if some of them wish they'd instead won the contract to disable bombs without an explosion. That would leave other problems, of course. But they wouldn't have to face the day when their defensive weapon blasts its first Iraqi family to kingdom come.

For more of Hedges, read this interview:

"Sustain yourself through community and try not to become too focused on what you can accomplish, because it may very well be that, by the time we’re gone, the world will be a worse place. But we have to validate our own existence, our own morality, our own life. And that comes by taking a stance, by standing up and remaining human. And there are times when remaining human is the only resistance possible."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tolerance, the EVIL Presence

It's hard to believe that the United States has degenerated in my lifetime from being the proud leader of the World, to being the ScapeGoat of Everyone in the World, even misguided Americans. Being, 'Politically Correct', no matter what, has relegated this great nation to a status of whipping boy for all the problems in the World. The Native Americans practiced tolerance for the 'White Man', who invaded his land, and perpetrated relentless war against them. One can readily see where a policy of trust and tolerance got them. Now the time has come for America to once again be invaded by a ruthless ENEMY. This time it is the muslims who are embracing 'manifest destiny', coming after us. We'd better face facts quickly if we don't want our children growing up speaking Arabic with nothing but the koran for their justice and comfort.

Pictures of Saddam Hussein in his underwear do not kill people. Pictures of ENEMY Combatants and detainees of war, with underwear on their heads, do not justify the beheading of anyone. People who flush bibles or korans down the toilet do not kill people. Rather, the World should rightly place the blame for the recent deaths of muslim protestors squarely upon the shoulders of ALL Radical muslims. If the, 'Good' Muslims would stop tolerating the Radicals amongst themselves, it would go a long ways toward solving most of their own problems, which are caused by their own actions, or lack thereof, and the hatred of ANYTHING non-muslim, especially the U.S.A. and the Hebrews. Perhaps we should give our muslim detainees the choice of our present methods of interrogation, or to be interrogated by the use of the brutal and barbaric methods that they themselves practice on their own people. It's about time that we take away the korans and prayer mats and native foods that we have provided every detainee, and let them eat the food that we ourselves eat, or be left to their own doings. It would be much easier not to desecrate their korans if they didn't have any. It's about time the people of the U.S. stop tolerating this muslim whining and begin to fight back against these sons-of-bitches whose only thoughts are to kill us because of their own pitiful failure to accept responsibility for their own attitudes and misguided actions, which are the root cause of all of their own problems. Their plight is of their own doing, not ours. And it's about time that the U.S. and its citizens recognize this fact of life.

I for one am getting sick and tired of tip-toeing around this treacherous self-declared ENEMY that infiltrates and surrounds us with their sick, misguided, backward EVIL religion based upon their barbaric H-A-T-R-E-D of everything good. Christians and Jews alike work toward World Peace while the muslims work toward anarchy, death, and destruction. What the Free World builds up, the muslims tear down, then blame us for their plight. And we tolerate it. All the World desperately wants our financial assistance but not our presence. I seem to remember an old saying that goes, "Beggers can't be choosers." We Americans are the most generous people on Earth. We Americans should not be ashamed of our people, our soldiers or all that our great Country stands for. Granted, we make our share of mistakes, as have they, but we have NO obligation to ANYONE to be any more tolerant of them than they are of us. We should be no more tolerant of their religion than they are of ours. Do you think for one moment that the muslims would provide our soldiers with Bibles if the roles were reversed ?? We should treat their 'soldiers' no better than they treat ours. And 'soldiers' that fight out of uniform are not soldiers at all, but spies and outlaws that should be summarily SHOT. We should adhere to the Geneva Conventions exactly the same way that they do, which is to say, not at all. Maybe when they stop attacking us and our country, stop beheading our people, quit stoning, killing, blowing up their own muslims and us, and rise above their petty self-centered, self-serving stone-age tribal fifedoms, we can begin to talk about peace. Until then, we should treat the ENEMY as the ENEMY, and act accordingly. The only thing these barbarians understand is FORCE, not tolerance. The only good Radical muslim is a DEAD Radical muslim. Send them all to their just reward.

For starters, I would personally recommend that we wrap the bodies of ANY and ALL muslim bombers, assassins, killers, and thugs in a nice blanket wrap of pigskin, before we bury them, along with the free gift of a Bible from the Free World. This might give pause to any deranged muslim who is misguided enough to act as a suicide bomber in the stupid irrational belief that they are going to 'heaven' to claim their 70 virgins. Could it be that the mullahs themselves are brain-washing and poisoning their youth with this idiotic teaching ?? If this is such a great calling, why don't any of their cowardly leadership subject themselves to it ?? They preach holy jihad but instead their leaders hide in spider holes, and mosques, and under the burkas of old women. I don't recall America teaching anyone that self destruction is a smart idea. So why are we blamed for their, behavior, and why do we as a Nation accept and tolerate this misplaced blame ?? Why do we perceive of ourselves as our own enemy when the REAL ENEMY is out there plotting and acting against us. ??

As in any war, our moral obligation and duty to our citizens is to protect ourselves and to KILL the ENEMY. If we are unwilling to do this, we have already lost the war. War is a terrible enterprise, but not as terrible as mindless surrender. We must not let the ENEMY's poisonous propaganda penetrate our hearts and minds and allow them to exploit our mercy and kindness as a weakness on our part. Our solemn responsibility is to protect and defend ourselves and our grandchildren from this SCOURGE. Our very lives and those of our children depend on us to fight and to overcome this Evil that confronts us, or reap the consequences of our tolerant, politically-correct policies.

As for myself, I want my grandchildren to inherit a safe America, secure from the EVIL
SATANIC desires of people who would crush out our lives, and our way of life, through the exploitation our own tolerance of THEIR INTOLERANCE for us.

I have no quarrel with law-abiding Muslims who would like to join us in citizenship in the United States of America. I welcome them. However, if they choose to become Americans, then let them ACT like Americans, assimilate into our culture, and DEFEND the American way of life against ALL ENEMIES, especially the Radicals who would exterminate them without so much as an 'allah akbar'. We can always use more interpreters who are sympathetic and loyal to the U.S. Where are these people who could contribute so much to their new Country and to the destiny of their own people ?

WAKE UP AMERICA. FREEDOM IS NOT FREE. The World will only begin to respect us again when we begin to respect ourselves. The meek shall inherit the Earth but it will be the Earth that we are able to salvage by prying it out of the hands of the EVIL people that are bent on destroying us. We are the greatest country on Earth. It's about time that we started acting like it again, and stop being a punching bag for the 'tolerant' and the 'politically correct.'

Yes, Pray for America, but remember, "God helps those who are willing to help themselves."

"Don't Tread on Me"

11:34 AM  
Blogger Charlie Quimby said...

Well, Providence, I'm trying to figure out whether your post relates to "War as a Piece of Cake," which is not about being nice to terrorists. It's not even about turning the other cheek. It's about understanding the unintended consequences of war and how "those who wield force become tainted or contaminated by it."

In that regard, I guess your post is Exhibit A.

I don't reject violence in all cases, but I believe indiscriminate violence is wrong. That's the practice of terrorists, and I don't want to join that club, for any reason. I don't propose we tolerate bad behavior by anyone, but I think it's necessary to discriminate between the Muslim religion and the radical terrorists who hide behind religion. I also believe that every time we kill someone — enemy or not — we are making more enemies. This is not the way to peace.

If you are worried about the American way of life, forget radical muslims. They haven't even been able to dislodge tiny Israel, which is in their back yard.

Our grandkids are much more likely to be speaking Chinese rather than Arabic. If you want to fight the real enemy, take on America's debt and energy habits.

7:19 PM  

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