Throughout history, with each new war-fighting technology the inventors thought they had created the ultimate deterrent to war. From the catapult, to the machine-gun to mustard gas to nuclear bombs and ICBMs the idea that if you build the ultimate weapon, war as we know it will end, because who would be stupid enough to attack knowing they would be guaranteed to lose and die?
The problem with this entire scenario has been pointed out time and time again, that wars aren’t fought by the people who start them. It wasn’t George W. Bush on the front lines of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” nor was it Congress.
Make that slight change, and we’d stop making war and probably make some real progress in our country.
There are two very different military weapons systems that amaze me as a rational, thinking former paratrooper- and both give me reason to believe war as we know it is obsolete.
The first is the ultimate infantry weapon- the Switchblade man portable drone:
Seeking to reduce civilian casualties and collateral damage, the Pentagon will soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy….
The new Switchblade drone, by comparison, weighs less than 6 pounds and can take out a sniper on a rooftop without blasting the building to bits. It also enables soldiers in the field to identify and destroy targets much more quickly by eliminating the need to call in a strike from large drones that may be hundreds of miles away.
“This is a precision strike weapon that causes as minimal collateral damage as possible,” said William I. Nichols, who led the Army’s testing effort of the Switchblades at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.
The 2-foot-long Switchblade is so named because its wings fold into the fuselage for transport and spring out after launch. It is designed to fit into a soldier’s rucksack and is fired from a mortar-like tube. Once airborne, it begins sending back live video and GPS coordinates to a hand-held control set clutched by the soldier who launched it.
When soldiers identify and lock on a target, they send a command for the drone to nose-dive into it and detonate on impact. Because of the way it operates, the Switchblade has been dubbed the “kamikaze drone.”
Never again will grunts be pinned down by a sniper who has the high ground, never again will a mortar tube behind a hill or a howitzer miles away be a problem. Pull out one of these compact air forces in your back pack and kill the enemy. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and no need to call in air support.
Of course, further in the article, we see foreshadowing of the next problem: creating a way to defend against enemies with the same weapons:
The Switchblade “is symptomatic of a larger problem that U.S. military and aerospace companies are generating, which is producing various more exotic designs,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Assn. “This technology is not always going to be in the sole possession of the U.S. and its allies. We need to think about the rules of the road for when and how these should be used so we can mitigate against unintended consequences.”
The Switchblade is assembled in Simi Valley by AeroVironment Inc., the Pentagon’s top supplier of small drones, which include the Raven, Wasp and Puma. More than 50 Switchblades will be sent to the war zone in Afghanistan this summer under a $10.1-million contract, which also includes the cost of repairs, spare parts, training and other expenses. Officials would not provide details about where the weapons would be used, how many were ordered and precisely when they would be deployed.
The second system is the gold- and diamond-encrusted F-35. What? It’s not bling? At a cost of $135 million each and a total cost of a trillion and a half dollars for around 2,400 planes rational people have to wonder what else you could do instead of buying weapons of war and investing in avoiding war? The project has doubled in cost, while our enemies that we can fight with these planes have been replaced by people who live in caves or compounds cut off from technology.
The basic premise of war is to take by force what is not yours and control it. The deployment of the nuclear bombs by the U.S. to end WWII broke one part of that equation- in that there was nothing left of Hiroshima or Nagasaki worth controlling after the bombing. A big part of the reason we were willing to use the bomb was because the Japanese had shown a dedication to fight to the death, to even sacrifice their lives as kamikazes to win at all costs. War no longer works when one side doesn’t care if they die or not.
This is why terrorism exists and why better, bigger, faster weapons are obsolete. A terrorist’s goal is to take and control the intangible, he doesn’t want your property or your country, he wants to take residence inside your head and control your thoughts and emotions. We don’t win wars with guns and bombs but with psychology and propaganda. Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but he gave our country new irrational fears that we’ve reacted to in asymmetrical fashion to a radical degree.
With the cost of these wars bankrupting our country and the policies of the people we’ve put in power creating an economic divide, we have become the kind of country that bred the very people we’ve sworn as our enemies. Countries with incredible poverty ruled over by a rich monarchy or a corrupt un-democratically elected government. With every single local government struggling to pave roads and keep street lights on, we have wasted trillions building schools and hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq.
With the ability to change our government beyond the reach of the common man, with congressional seats costing well over a million dollars apiece and Senate seats way more, we are heading in the same direction as war- the only options left are unconventional and our next “American Revolution” will start much as the first one- by “terrorists.”
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Ignore this at your own risk. It’s time to question how we can continue to believe we can buy peace with weapons of war. We don’t need to elect Democrats or Republicans anymore- we need to elect members of the peace party, or we’ll forever be doomed to a world at war.