Joe Bauers - 3/31/2005 5:03 PM
1. No, I (for one) do not think that the taking of 3,000 American lives (as horrific an event as it was) should result in nuclear war. It required a persistent pursuit of the actual culprits and the organizations they represent. Because the Bush administration was obviously incapable (or uninterested) in doing this, you jump to the conclusion that a nuclear strike would have been appropriate. That is a far leap for most reasonable people to take.
Joe, while I am not a fan of the Bush Administration and would love to be able to blame every deficiency I see on W and his cronies, the problem I see with the military is not a Bush-only problem. It is the consequence of a few generations of growing more reliant on technology and focussing less energy on strategy. Rumsfeld, in his first few months back made some noise about realizing this and estranged his subordinate bedfellows at the Pentagon in his attempt to redirect their weapons development programs.
When the Berlin Wall fell, a change in the way the military viewed its mission began that has yet to result in a change in the solutions being sought by military leaders to carry out the mission. The actual change began long before the wall fell, new and different threats were developing, encouraged by our very visible failure in Vietnam. We even abetted the present threat by sustaining them in their battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan. But we continue to view the solution to overcoming these threats as elements of a high tech, Nintendo-style warfare approach where we dominate the battle field with our superior information processing systems and precision guided weapons.
The solutions you propose, while reasonable sounding, require resources that are not in the US military's quivver. These resources, mostly a new breed of American military personnel, will take generations to develop to be as effective as they need to be to protect us from the growing threats around the world that look, smell and act like Osamma's followers. In the mean time, we will continue to respond the only ways we know how. Which is ineffectively. If we survive economically and otherwise until the new resources are available, great. Otherwise, we need another solution that we can implement immediately.
Joe Bauers - 3/31/2005 5:03 PM
2. Your citing the "2,000 American lives every few years" was apparently a reference to Iraq, or Iraq-type wars. You and I have been in agreement that the Iraq war was a colossal mistake; why would you suggest, though, that this type of mistake is a foregone conclusion for our immediate and long-term future? George W. Bush will not be president forever. There is always a chance, is there not, that we might find a politician who can lead us with resolve AND reason?
I am well aware that history may teach only that we learn nothing from history, and thus far that would appear to be true. But relegating our country to continued mistakes along these lines was a most depressing view.
As noted above, this is not a George W. Bush failure alone. I even give Rumsfeld credit for noting the military was unresponsive to the changing threats in the way they planned to prepare for the future after the Berlin Wall fell, and trying to force them to change. Too little, too late, and now, we are spending our resources on horseshit like rebuilding Iraq because we were so dumb as to blow the place up for no good reason.
Changing the US military's view on how they spend money and what they spend it on is going to be a slow process. We are all brainwashed to believe we make better weapons because we have better technology. And the course of that technology development path is leading us to weapons that cost more to fire than the targets cost to build. We want to fight wars without the whole process being any more personal than manipulating a joy stick or keypad, or both, while staring at a screen in some remote location.
To be effective in the manner you propose will require PEOPLE in the military to be better trained with much greater skills. This is an investment that military leaders have traditionally seen little actual return on since many of the necessary skills qualify the soldier for a much higher paying job in industry, and many of them opt out after being trained. For the new military mission you have outlined, the skill sets needed will be much more sinister and harder to welcome back into the routine American life. Being an accomplished multi-lingual, multi-cultural infiltrator of terrorist cells who can eliminate threats alone or in small groups on an as-needed basis might not be someone who makes you comfortable at a backyard barbeque. We need literally thousands of these types to do what you suggested though, and we have next to none, and no pipeline for developing them and getting them on station.
Joe Bauers - 3/31/2005 5:03 PM
3. Rather than obliterating millions upon millions of people in a nuclear holocaust (for it would take many bombs to kill all the "bastards" that might rise up against us), consider the possibility of working both sides of the street--vigilant pursuit, via an international police action, while working to change the minds of those who are so predisposed against us.
Joe, all good ideas but they have to be implemented with a predetermined yardstick to measure whether they are being effective. One of the most prevalent problems with all social planning is that there is very little discipline used. If you seek to modify the perceptions of millions predisposed against us, then the problem needs to be concisely defined and divided into specific issues and specific actions to address those issues with specific results predicted with specific means to measure the results and determine whether they are working. Most of the problems with heading down one of these paths is that the actions taken are not selected to be effective, they are selected because they sound like nice things to do that would be effective if the person making the selection was the one to be addressed by the action. Anyway, my point is those actions will also take generations to actually be effective, so they need to be identified, selected and implemented with a longer term view. If the selection process picks bum solutions, we need to know it sooner rather than later. I do not have much faith that something so necessary and direct can be done without becoming a political boondoggle. Look at the circus just assembled to politicize the death of the brain dead woman in Forida.
I still think the "nukes are off the table no matter what" approach dooms us to this pocket pool game we are presently playing. We just don't have the military capability you would like, and I don't see it being developed, now or in the future. Which makes waiting for it to save the day a scenario for more of the same we have now, at best, and god knows what at worst. Jim