Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Friday, January 11, 2008

War is obsolete.

Major Daniel L. Davis misses the target in advocating for his modernization of our military (“Modernize the US Military “ 1-10-08 Washington Times). He remains stuck in the kinetic war paradigm where armor is important. He may have a valid point regarding Germany’s rapid defeat of France in spite of France’s superior technological advantage but he then argue s that future wars are winnable if we adopt the right technologies and armor up.

Essentially, he and many in our nation are still fighting the last wars where airpower, smart bombs and armor played significant roles. What he and others are ignoring however is how vastly the world of technology has changed and will only accelerate to make war as they know it obsolete.

First, weapons used to be ‘used up’ when used. Fire a gun, drop a bomb or launch a missile and it was gone. Expensive manufacturing and delivery processes pose significant barriers to quickly or affordably rearming. Today there is a new class of weapons that are replicable. When a biological virus or computer virus is released…it multiplies by itself with no further economic expenditures needed except by those who are trying to defend against them.

Second, trying to defend a nation against the power of such technologies is prohibitively expensive and labor intensive. A few individuals with limited funding can develop a biological or cyber weapon in a few weeks or months that an entire nation cannot detect or defend against with the most powerful military in the world. It only took a few dozen men with a simple plan and a few razor knives and about $100,000 of funding to hit us on 9-11. Beyond the precious American lives lost that day the damage done costs us only a few billion dollars. Our immediate response to 9-11 cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and our continued response to that day is costing us trillions as well as some of our most cherished freedoms and ideals.

Third, our dependence on military power for defense of our nation is doomed to eventual failure. Even today the Chinese might have the capacity to blind our satellite intelligence and communications efforts, or effectively infiltrate them and deceive our own forces into destroying each other in a conventional war.

Last, and maybe most important, we used to be able to identify an enemy by their uniform and we could deter their aggression with unimaginable fire power. Neither are true to day. The next WMD attack could come from the basement next door and their fear of retaliation or death isn’t an issue. They may want both. Retaliation, because our use of blunt force, even when we try to limit ‘collateral damage’ only helps them recruit more to their own ranks. Death, because it validates their religious belief, their courage, and the depth of their personal commitment.

Major Davis and others like him just don’t seem to understand that war as they knew it is obsolete. The only valid and sane war we can wage now is one for hearts and minds of humanity. It will be in large numbers of people working together in every nation of the world that will provide all of us with the best intelligence, technology and dare I say wisdom, to find and neutralize those who are committed to destroying our level of civilization. A civilization where justice, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights is more important than converting others to our religious beliefs or mass murdering them because of real or perceived grievances.

War is essentially the law of force. And the power and affordability of technology today gives almost anyone the power to wage destructive war. What we need now is the force of law. Laws democratically made and enforced, to protect the basic rights of all. That will require a modernized global police force but modernizing the military is a sure route to eventual defeat.

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