The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Star Trek and Iraq 

I've admitted this before, so it's not that big of a deal. I'm a computer geek. That means several things, among them is the fact that I watch Star Trek. With that said, I read an old post today on VodkaPundit regarding a think piece from the Army War College:

Precision weapons unquestionably have value, but they are expensive and do not cause adequate destruction to impress a hardened enemy. The first time a guided bomb hits the deputy's desk, it will get his chief's attention, but if precision weaponry fails both to annihilate the enemy's leadership and to somehow convince the army and population it has been defeated, it leaves the job to the soldier once again. Those who live in the technological clouds simply do not grasp the importance of graphic, extensive destruction in convincing an opponent of his defeat.
...
Ultimately, the key advantage of a superpower is super power. Faced with implacable enemies who would kill every man, woman, and child in our country and call the killing good (the ultimate war of attrition), we must be willing to use that power wisely, but remorselessly.

I read the piece and it was excellent. It brings into focus something that we've known for a long time, and that people don't like. War is ugly, it is destructive, it is awful. It causes damage and kills people. That's why we don't like going to war. What does this all have to do with Star Trek? After reading this, I was instantly reminded of one particular episode. By the way, I'm talking the original series here, no Next Gen or Voyager crap. Also, I had to go look this stuff up, I only had a vague recollection. I don't memorize episode numbers or seasons. I'm not that much of a geek.

Basically the episode synposis is this. The Enterprise goes into a solar system with two planets that have been at war for something like 500 years. But they've come up with "civilized" way of waging war. They use computer simulated atttacks on each other, where each side's computers register damage, and people are assigned as casualties appropriately. Those casualties then go to special chambers where they are "humanely" killed. All of a sudden the Enterprise crew is thrown into the mix because they've been declared casaulties and they refuse to go into the machines, destroying them instead. Now that the machines are destroyed, and the inhabitants of that planet are worried that the other planet will bring out their real bombs, and now they'll be faced with a real war.

These planets made fighting a war too cleanly, too easyly, too painlessly. That's why it lasted 500 years. The fact that they'd now be using real bombs is a good thing. Maybe if they were faced with real destruction, real death, they'd be much more willing to come to the table. These are the dangers that we face when we make war too surgical, to humane. War becomes too easy of an alternative.

We actually owe it to everyone to be rutheless. Not only does it eventually decrease the number of casualties, it makes people rethink going to war in the first place, which in the end benefits everyone. I think war can be justified. When you do justify it, you go in to win, and to win big. As horrible as it sounds, I think it has been proven time and time again that its only real alternative.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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