Sunday, January 03, 2010

Weighing the World


(fm the BC thread "Droning on")

Sylvia,
(who has cancer)
This is not the type of web site were a man rides in on a white horse to sweep a lady off her feet.
Consider yourself virtually swept. If we could battle dragons for you we would.

Josh,
You are correct that it possible to want more collateral damage. The first thing to do is to define the goal. If your goal is to induce a warm feeling in hearts and minds then you build a well and send the doctor around and share meals with the locals. If it is to kinetically effect a discrete object like a man in a car in a remote location then nothing works as well as the precision Hellfire delivered by the loitering Predator. If the purpose is to induce shock and awe then something less surgical may be appropriate. If what we want is for some people, arabs or muslims or observing russians or chinese etc, to behave in desired ways then we should determine if destroying any objects or communities will advance that goal and save lives in the future. If an analysis can be made that it will then we should be prepared to do so. If not then we should save the money. Our decisions should not be based on what a Special Rapperateur in The Hague will have to say after the fact.

Consider the purposes of the strategic bombing campaigns in WW-II. They were not designed to destroy individual leaders like Goering or Tojo. On rare occasions an individual like Yamamoto was targeted in the same way that a ball bearing plant may have been. On balance the purpose of the multi-Billion dollar air campaigns, culminating in the atomic bombs, were to induce the civilian population to stop supporting their armed forces and to induce the enemy armed forces to abandon the battle. Both are political goals with the physical destruction of the enemy's military or civilian assets being only a means to the goal. Strategic combat did get Japan to surrender before an American invasion and the Germans by the Spring of 1945 were largely moving West to surrender. In both cases the utility of the bombing has been disputed. In the German case the advance of the Red Army probably had a greater impact on morale then the fire bombing of Hamburg or Dresden.

It concerns me that strangers to this site may read our comments and think that they can use them to defame us all as sadistic reactionaries eager to see cinematic violence. Those who bother to follow the conversations here will quickly learn that most here have experience in the military or in positions of responsibility or dealing as in medicine with issues of life and death that we can bring to delicate subjects. The hard part is accepting that violence is simply a tool and that while it is inappropriate in many indeed most situations, although it is always present as a potential in the background of any human interaction, there are times when it does solve problems. In those specific situations getting both the timing and the size of force correct is crucial. To little or to late can lead to far more disruption, meaning increased violence poverty hatred and death, over a far greater period of time. To much violence used either to early or beyond what is needed to achieve a goal will both waste resources and also distort future relations with all survivors, including your own. Unfortunately after several thousands of years of serious study by the best minds that humanity can produce we still have found no easy way to predetermine the answers to the questions "How much?" and "When?"

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