Love Peace: Prepare for War

No Time to Stand Down
I know that America must make it clear to the world that we can
defend ourselves. We must make it clear that we are in a merely tactical
withdrawal. Our military resources must not be allowed to get rusty or decline
in numbers or readiness. We must stay battle ready. We should even continue
with military innovation. The world is hardly at peace yet as we can see and we
have enemies, mostly foreign, perhaps a few domestic, who would delight in
catching us unprepared. Our allies must stay prepared to fight also. This is no
time to stand down.
New Kind of War
However, this is the time to stand back when we can, to
analyze, to accept that future wars in some ways may not look like the wars of
the past, although many of the same sad truths will apply. It is time to
regroup, to brainstorm, and find innovative ways to target each enemy with
tailor-made plans in the same way we now target certain cancers with
personalized drugs. We can’t afford to ignore our enemies; we don’t really want
to be isolationists who wake up one day to find themselves deprived of this Democracy
we treasure.
Can’t Waste Our Best Assets
Committing ourselves to send huge forces of our young men
and women off to war as America’s soldiers is not a strategy that will work. We don’t
have the human resources for this or the heart. 
Our people are too precious to us and we don’t have an enormous
population to waste. Our human resources are hardly endless. We have no “clone”
army. We have no robot soldiers. How do we fight well without expending large
numbers of our most valuable resource – our people? I think we fight exactly as
we are learning to fight now. “Designer” wars targeted to a particular enemy
are a good start, although our long distance tools are limited. We need to
rewrite those classic books on military strategy, to 2K reboot them, so to speak.
What We Stand to Gain and Lose
We may not love drones but for a while they are the
only nonhuman long distance resource we have outside of nukes which we
absolutely can’t use and chemicals, which we also can’t use. Collateral damage
is always a bad thing in a war. Wars are not supposed to kill civilians. They
are about deciding how those civilians will live after the war. If no civilians
survive, war is pointless, unless you are simply trying to depopulate the
planet and fortunately we aren’t there yet. I’m a civilian. I don’t want to be
killed by accident; therefore I don’t love drones that kill civilians anywhere.
I don’t love war either for that matter. We must use the new tools we have to
prevent our Democracy from being swallowed by a world of power-mad people who
hate freedom. We must not allow ourselves to be easily crushed by those who
would have us live according to religious beliefs and customs that are not our
own and who would deprive us of important rights. Women would especially be
deprived of freedoms that we hold very dear. Our brains would once again cry
out to be used and we would end up using them in petty competitions and
cruelties among ourselves.
Police, Use Military Gear to Defend Locals, Not Police
Them
I do deplore the fact that our police departments own
equipment that is military in nature, but I only deplore it if they use it on
our own people to enforce laws that can be enforced (and have been enforced)
without turning our hometown police, our neighbors, into hostile strangers
hiding behind riot gear. We don’t want to escalate violence against each other.
We want to be trained to recognize a true enemy if it presents itself and we
want to be prepared to fight such an enemy anywhere in America. (I am trying to
get used to calling America the homeland, but it doesn’t sound quite right to
me yet.)
Flexible, Targeted, and Deadly
We need to have strategies that allow for flexibility,
for travelling light but being a deadly force regardless of the size. We need
ways to get into war zones, where the outcomes may affect us or our allies,
quickly and to get out quickly. We don’t have many of these technologies in our arsenal.
They may not even have been invented yet or we may not have decided yet whether
they are technologies we want to use. However, if we can design things as toys
for movies I am guessing we can eventually design real ones. Drones cannot be
the only robot or long distance tool we have and drones need to continue to be
refined until our enemies can be more exactly targeted.
The Paradox

I want peace. I have no faith that mankind has any gift
for peace and I still want it. Until the whole world wants it too, is dedicated
to it absolutely, I am a war monger who only wishes to make it clear that we
can and will defend ourselves. We will try in every way not to defend ourselves
with the frail flesh and blood of our fellow Americans. We have to try to
invent the most effective techniques we can find for fighting wars from a
distance. If our ways are effective enough maybe war will end; it will be too
deadly to fight wars and we can have peace. If we can invent the internet we
can do this. Meanwhile we must stay lean, mean and keep as much distance from
our enemies as humanly possible. We can hate war, in fact it is better if we
do, but we must know how and be prepared to fight. This is the paradox of the
world as we know it, the paradox that I hope we can someday put behind us forever.
By Nancy Brisson

Veteran’s Day, 2013 – My Thoughts, My Thanks

 
 
It is Veteran’s Day, the day we offer special thanks to our
soldiers and their families for dealing with our enemies. We are tasked with
keeping the home fires burning and keeping America ticking along so that our
soldiers will have something to come home to. We haven’t always done such a
great job with this essential trust. After WWII our soldiers came home as
absolute heroes to a grateful and celebratory nation. After Vietnam, with more
than half the country in the middle of a cultural revolution, and with the
anti-war movement strong and loud, our soldiers got short shrift when they came
home. Modern soldiers have come home to a land in the midst of economic shifts
without the plentiful factory jobs which helped soldiers who returned from
previous wars. They have come home to a country that has fewer financial
resources and cannot be as generous as we previously were to those WWII vets. They
have come home to a Veteran’s Administration that should have switched their
records to computers a while ago, a Veteran’s Administration that has had
difficulty dealing with an enormous backlog of paper work, and which has
therefore left veterans in a limbo that has ranged from frustrating to
devastating.

We each have responsibilities when there is conflict in the
world, but the burdens our soldiers bear are greater. The soldier knows that
s/he may face bodily harm or death; s/he may be asked to serve in a hostile
land where understanding at least the essentials in a foreign language and
understanding cultural rules that differ from ours makes soldiering tougher
than just being a good citizen at home. In these times we often fight wars and
interact with the people who live near our simple military bases; we are training
these native people and trying to show our humanity and good will while wearing
body armor and uniforms, and we are trying not to let our guard down in case
the enemy is mixed in with the townsfolk.

Medically we can save soldiers with horrific wounds, wounds which
would have been fatal in almost every other war we have ever fought. This is a
good thing. However, this good thing has a tough side because the weapon of
choice in these recent wars has been the IED which rips limbs off of bodies.
Our soldiers live but must go through long periods of rehabilitation. We see
the brave ones who conquer their limb loss and do inspirational things like run
and ski, all using prosthetics. These veterans, who gather their internal
mental strength to regain their physical strength, may cause a sort of snowball
effect that helps those who might not have quite as much mental strength to
find theirs, and to learn to live fairly well within their limitations. Surely
though there must also be soldiers who are too damaged to lift themselves up
and regain quality in their lives and perhaps these soldiers sometimes wish we
were not getting so good at saving their lives when they are so severely
injured.

The one area that has benefited the most from innovation
during our war activities in the Middle East has, sadly, been this area of
prosthetics. We are finding that the industry is responding to need by creating
replacement limbs that are more useful than prosthetics designed in the past.
We are seeing this area of invention leap forward into designs that are more futuristic
than what we are seeing in other areas of innovation (except for weapons
design, an area where progress has always responded to mankind’s desire to
wreak ever more havoc). Warfare seems to be moving soldiers farther and
farther apart with weapons that have the ability to kill enemies at a greater
distance, although we still have infantry and we still eventually mix it up
hand to hand. Drones are the first long distance weapon whose use is not to
clear the way for foot soldiers. It gives us the ability to fight wars without
wounded soldiers. However, drones will probably meet our warfare goals for only
a brief time because they are most useful in terrain where soldiers are least
effective or in lands that are truly hostile, but which politically require a
diplomatic approach. Eventually, when all nations have drones, drones will
allow countries to attack distant lands and soldiers will be of no help against
them. Only a star wars type low earth orbit defense system will combat drones
if every country is using them.

Will we always have soldiers? Probably. Will we always see
the terrible loss of limbs that we have seen in recent wars? I hope not. Perhaps
if we find that losing limbs will always be part of soldiering we will
eventually reach the place where we know how to regrow them. There are signs
that we may be getting close.

If you like to read about soldiers then reading about Rome,
where modern warfare began, is a great place to start. The Roman soldier was
essential to an imperialistic Rome, a relatively modern nation surrounded by
barbarians, who actually were fairly uncivilized and wild. Rome knew the value
of soldiers and it tried to reward career soldiers, although in times when
resources were scarce soldiers often had to wait until more prosperous times to
get their rewards. I recommend a trilogy of books written by Colleen McCullough
in the 1990’s. (I know they’re old, but since they are about Rome which is even
older, they stay relevant.) Here is a brief summary of each of the books:
 

From Library Journal

The First Man in Rome

This big, complex novel detailing the beginnings of the
downfall of the Roman Republic is a startling change of pace for McCullough.
Gaius Marius, an upstart New Man from the Italian provinces, and Lucius
Cornelius Sulla, a patrician Roman brought up in the slums of the Subura, are
both ambitious enough to want to become First
Man in Rome
, despite their social handicaps. The author deftly weaves
politics, family rivalries, and battle scenes into a riveting story replete
with fascinating details of everyday Roman life. The research is obviously
painstaking; the author includes a large glossary of more than 100 pages as
well as a pronunciation key for the Roman names. Highly recommended.
– Marilyn Jordan, North Miami P.L., Fla.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

 

The Grass Crown

Amazon book description

New York Times bestselling author Colleen McCullough
returns us to an age of magnificent triumphs, volcanic passions, and barbaric
cruelties.

Throughout the Western world,
great kingdoms have fallen and despots lay crushed beneath the heels of Rome’s
advancing legions. But now internal rebellion threatens the stability of the
mighty Republic. An aging, ailing Gaius Marius, heralded conqueror of Germany
and Numidia, longs for that which was prophesied many years before: an
unprecedented seventh consulship of Rome. It is a prize to be won only through
treachery and with blood, pitting Marius against a new generation of assassins,
power-seekers, and Senate intriguers—and setting him at odds with the
ambitious, tormented Lucius Cornelius Sulla, once Marius’s most trusted
right-hand man, now his most dangerous rival.

Fortune’s Favorites

From Library Journal

The third installment in McCullough’s magnum opus (after The First Man in Rome, 90, and The Grass Crown , Morrow, 1991)
continues her chronicle of the decline of the Roman Republic and the impending
rise of the Roman Empire. The novel’s events are dominated by Sulla’s return
from exile and subsequent installation as Rome’s first dictator in almost 200
years; Pompey the Great’s machinations as the wealthy provincial, which clears
his own path upward through Roman politics; and the maturing of Gaius Julius
Caesar, who will ultimately set Rome upon it’s imperial course. These three are
Fortune’s favorites.”
Painstakingly researched, McCullough’s Roman saga is like a trip through time.
Her characters come to life as do their surroundings. While giving us
rollicking good fiction, McCullough has also made clear the bribery and
chicanery that made up Roman politics. She has given us clear insight into how
Rome found itself changing from a republic to an empire. Highly recommended.
– Steven Sussman, “Library Journal”
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

I will end by saying that there will never be a way to
thank our soldiers enough but that we should keep trying.
 
This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com