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.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

War is obsolete and suicideal.

Dear Editor,
Frank Gaffney (Opinion June 1, 2011) doesn’t seem to understand how war has changed as a result of the exponential growth of powerful, affordable, and ubiquitous technologies. Now and increasingly in the future as technologies continue to yield unprecedented killing capacity they will also be increasingly difficult to trace back to their source.
These basic realities make both deterrence and defense ultimately impossible. Even simple existing conventional technologies like IEDs are the primary weapon killing the majority of our best armed, best armored, top trained and most capable military warriors. They won’t be stopped with more or better weapons. Only by making more friends will most IED’s be stopped.
Our advanced weapons were helpful in killing Osama Bin Ladin but it was our everyday technologies he used ten years earlier to overcome our best defenses and kill thousands of Americans, temporarily cripple our national economy and stimulate changes to our government that costs hundreds of billions of dollars. A doubling of military power since 9-11 has made us no safer against a growing range of threats, from cyber, to nano, to biological.
Investing in the development and production of effective defenses against dirty bombs, biological weapons, or cyber attacks will break us economically. This will achieve one of the two primary goals Osama Bin Ladin set out to do and accelerate his second goal of ‘dividing us politically’ as we continue to fight among ourselves over a dwindling supply of economic resources.
Life is fragile and even the most technologically advanced military systems are not vulnerable. Space debris or solar events can take out our most vital satellite resources and without some globally enforceable limits to the freedom to explore space there is no way our current military superiority can be matter how much we spend.
Some policy makers are aware of these inevitable vulnerabilities if others intend us harm -- and that our human enemies aren’t even the most lethal or most immediate national security threat we face. Pandemics, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and economic depression may require military logistical capacity to for humanitarian response or kinetic military power to control initial chaos when disaster does strike, but far more could be done by investing more in systems to prepare for inevitable threats and in thoughtful systems to prevent them if possible.
One useful system is that of law. It can replace war as a means of solving many global problems. At the very least we need more friends in the world, not more weapons. If we hope to identify threats and effectively respond to them without creating more enemies, we must look to systems of cooperation instead of destruction. Having the biggest baddest military isn’t useful or affordable in our increasingly interdependent world.
It’s been said by a far wiser soul, that those who live by the sword shall die by it. Real peace is not a function of armament or even disarmament. It is a function of justice. And justice is a function of law not war.