30 August, 2007

Total war honesty

There was a program over the radio recently, something about the new techniques the military employs to train soldiers to turn the “killer instinct” on and off quickly. Or may be it was about the proposed techniques, that some concerned armchair strategists are demanding to be implemented. Not sure about that, but the purpose described was to allow soldiers to enter a building, see who's inside and, if they see movement, make a decision whether to kill whomever was moving, or recognize that “it's just a few kids” and, correspondingly, do nothing.

I think this is a logical extension of the “humane weapons” concept that is being circulated recently. Precision bombs, guided missiles, no collateral damage, etc., etc., etc. Although, somehow, non-combatants are still being killed, mistaken for guerrillas, or just because the precision guidance wasn't as precise as expected. Lots of reasons, lots of scary pictures on the Internet, lots of demands to improve the tactics... Like the aforementioned training.

The scary pictures on the Internet or TV are, perhaps, the driving factor behind this. Nobody really cares to think about how wars were fought when there was no TV and no photography, although it is fairly obvious from the science of History that, well, the purpose of wars was to kill your opponents by any means available. The nobility might have enjoyed a privilege of being held for ransom, but as for the regular folks ― vae victis!

And somewhere between the invention of TV and the Internet, I think, the public must have become quite scared by all these gory pictures, which normally only the actual combatants would see. Being unaccustomed to that, the public got shocked and demanded change. The best change would be, of course, to stop wars completely, but that is unrealistic until globalization is complete, hence all the fuss about precision weapons to calm the domestic populace.

But it doesn't work too well. Of course, technology has to balance between price, effectiveness and the “preciseness” but, more importantly, civilians tend to wander right into the kill zone, rendering collateral damage reduction technology useless. Then the general public starts worrying again, demanding more effort in that respect and politicians are happy to give out promises, until the vicious cycle repeats and people begin whining again: “How could we support this horrible, horrible thing! But we thought we were only going to kill bad people!”

So what would the Wise Monarch's solution be? I guess he'd just stop pretending and would honestly say: “We're going to go there and kill everyone”, and than actually go and do it. Why waste money researching precision weapons if civilians are going to die anyway? Why screw the soldiers' psyche by demanding two conflicting modes of behavior simultaneously? As an extra bonus, “regular people” would know what the war is and, although would be less likely to support it, but if they do, there won't be any second thoughts or flip-flops. And they won't have the uncomfortable remorse afterwards. Not that the Monarch needs any support – you know, being an absolute ruler and all – but a good king should always try to make his subjects happy. Makes coups less likely ;)

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