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Cyberpunk Review » Gibson on the 4th Generation War - We’re Losing!
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Comments

August 1, 2006

DannyV said:

Fascinating stuff.

I think there are few avenues where our inevitable fall into cyberpunk are as evident as modern warfare. The truly pathetic American notion of “we can kick anyone’s ass” is truly outdated in the modern battlefield(not insulting Americans, guys, I’m just saying it IS an attitude many have and one that is detrimental). The fact is, enemies of the American military are infinitely more adaptable, infinitely more dedicated, and infinitely less restrained. This is a result of many factors, including less military might(which forces them to utilize more clandestine methods, including possibly organized crime and, yes, terrorism), the homecourt advantage(something American soldiers will NEVER have), and moral and religious conviction. Foreign enemies have a truly frightening conviction of their righteousness of cause, and they utilize this to justify truly atrocious actions. However, the fact is, it works: not only are they able to thoroughly demoralize American troops, but they also cause loss of support back at home. In our globalized media world, this is even more dangerous, as any mishap by the military is instantly known the world over, and can cause loss of support both at home and by allied powers(Guantanamo Bay and the Iraqi prison abuses being some of the most prominent examples).

The sad part is that, IMHO, this is not so much a military problem as it is a diplomatic and political one. The fact is that the United States armed forces are arguably the best and best prepared in the world, but they CAN’T DO THEIR JOB. Political considerations and public image are more of a problem to them than to any other army on the planet. The US government is the US Army’s worst enemy. In the present administration, this is the most apparent it’s been in probably the whole of American military history. The fact is that our involvement(or, more accurately, our administration’s) in Iraq and Lebanon is not righteous at all. It is motivated by economic and political factors quite far from any actual consideration for human life. It is also an unwinable conflict: the Muslim states will ALWAYS be at war with Israel. They’ve been for literally THOUSANDS of years, for reasons older than any of the countries involved, and we have no business in meddling in their affairs. This is also a great example of the need for energetic independence: our reliance on foreign fuel drags us into conflicts we are not entitled to participate in. Hell, Brazil is completely energy self-sufficient! Why can’t the United States be??

I think the Army needs to find ways to be more effective without as much scrutiny. I think we need to take a more “Cold War” approach: more covert action and direct attack against enemy resources. The Navy SEALS, SPETSNAZ, the CIA, the former KGB and Mossad have demostrated how effective covert operations can be in weakening military opponents, and in today’s high-tech world, this approach not only would keep civilian(in fact, ALL) casualties at a minimum, but it would also permit much more focused and UNTRACEABLE warfare.

Some may say that it is immoral to use such methods for warfare(after all, it would be attacking foreign powers without public knowledge or approval), but newsflash: war is the ultimate immorality. It destroys lives, weakens men’s resolve, it lessens us all. But it is an inevitable thing. Since the dawn of human history, we have been at each other’s throats. We might as well try to do it as far from the average Joe as possible.

SFAM said:

Hi Danny, interesting post. Just to point out, we aren’t really involved in Lebanon, although we’ve clearly had an impact politically (not for the better). For the most part, I agree with you that the “strut our stuff and make you scared” approach (shock and awe as its now called) hasn’t worked at all. This, I think, was really at the heart of Bush Administration’s decision making process to invade Iraq - they thought that if they intimidated a random Arab country that everyone would back down. Instead, they opened up a powderkeg of Arab disagreements, all wrapped up in an ever-increasing hatred of outside invaders. In a conventional war, sure, this would be great stuff, but it doesn’t seem like we’re going to be fighting too many of these.

Your thoughts towards the clandestine side of things while scary, may be a successful response to a 4th generation warfare enemy. But in a sense, its acknowledging and stooping down to the beheading mindset, which I’m not really sold is the best course. I think possibly though, the answer lies in maximizing our leverage in all aspects - militarily, economically, politically, etc. I have no problem with the US keeping their economic and political interests in mind when dealing with foreign countries - in fact I expect them to, just as I would any country. The problem is when we miscalculate - horribly in some cases. We also still need to “feed the beast” that is our military industrial base. Unfortunately, these big ticket items seem pretty useless in today’s conflicts.

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