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Fighting the Techno-War 315

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the Technology-and-its-limits dept.
The Gulf War ushered in the age of the Techno-conflict, a new kind of war favored by politicians because it' s supposed to be bloodless, at least on our side, and because dazzling new technologies, many of them digital, are supposed to crush and overwhelm distant and defiant cultures. But the use of technology to acheive global political goals has turned out to be much more complicated than many people, thought as both Saddam Hussein and Slobodian Milosevic have shown. TV loves to broadcast images of the Techno-war, and the Pentagon loves to provide them. But sometimes, these images obscure the real story.

Americans are among the world's best engineers and machine-builders, and their faith in the power of their technological creations to alter history is nearly a national religion. That faith is being tested and challenged in Yugoslavia.

Ever since Vietnam, the idea of the Techno-War has grown as a political and foreign policy tool for enforcing American and Western -- nobody else yet has nearly so much technology-- values and solutions on a dubious and diverse world.

The Techno-War, on display in Serbia and Yugoslavia nightly on cable and the evening news, (this column isn't about whether we should or shouldn't be there) is a powerful reminder of just how complex the mixing of technology and global politics is, especially as the rapid growth of digital technics advances the idea that we really can do and accomplish almost anything, and bend almost anyone or anything to our will.

The Techno-War is a godsend for politicians. Increasingly, it's characterized by these traits:

l. The notion of the painless war. Techno-wars are supposed to be clean, efficient wars, in that they are primarily waged by hi-tech weaponry and machines, rather than by our neighbors, sons, daughters and friends. And their targets, we are told, are buildings and defense mechanisms, not civilian populations.

2. Technology and public relations. Techno-wars are all TV wars, in that they feature lots of digital art showing missiles and bombs - all computer programmed and controlled -- hurtling towards grainy targets, then obliterating them. "Let me show you what our amazing new technology can do," enthused a British General on CNN last Saturday, as he urged reporters at a press briefing to pick up their personal video copies of smart bombs landing on target and demolishing buildings. Public relations are an essential part of Techno-Wars - sometimes it almost seems as if they're the point.

Next to pictures of lawyers screaming and buildings burning, TV loves nothing better in all the world than the picture of a bomb zeroing in on some evil building. The Pentagon loves this even more, since that's how they get money from Congress to buy and build more things.

So beginning with the Gulf War, the unholy marriage between these two -- satellite-fed screen journalism and the military -- has characterized the presentation of the Techno-War. If we have no idea quite what we're blowing up or why, we are amazed and delighted by the process with which we do it. 3. Techno-wars obscure cultural conflicts, in that Techno-War is predicated on the notion that our vastly superior technology will prevail over even the most ancient, bitter and entrenched rivalries and hostilities. For all of this country's history, Americans have seen technology work for them in terms not only of prosperity but of projecting political power.

Yet this faith sometimes obscures understanding of different cultures and ethnicities and the different ways in which they think. >From Vietnam to Iraq to the Serbs, we seem to fall into this trap again and again, thinking that our vastly superior technology will cause determined peoples to crumble and succumb. The thing is, they often don't.

How much do we really know about this particular ancient struggle, the one in Kosovo, elements of which date back hundreds of years and have defied solution, negotiation, or mediation? 4. The techno-gamble. Techno-wars are politically expedient kind of wars, in which political leaders essentially bet they can use technology to change political outcomes quickly. This, they wager, will happen because the public is both enchanted by the technology and placated by the fact that it's machines, not people, doing the fighting. Techno-Wars are declared abruptly, almost always without national or political referendum, and within minutes, accompanied by dazzling satellite-transmitted pictures of tracer bullets, bomb flashes and sounds of wailing sirens. The belief - also hubris, perhaps - is that they will be over before resistance or skepticism can develop.

Almost everyone involved in the latest Techno-War openly acknowledges that public support would vanish instantly if large numbers of American soldiers were being injured or killed, or if the conflict drags on too long.

Since Vietnam, Americans have had little stomach for sending soldiers off to war. Casualties during military actions and terrorist attacks in Beirut and Somalia prompted the abrupt withdrawal of American troops. Military actions in Haiti, Grenada, and Panama saw massive troops committed to overpowering small and impoverished countries for short periods of time with limited goals. All three resulted in minor American casualties and were over in days or weeks. But they were more traditional military operations, involving the deployment of many ground troops. In Kosova, as in recent military actions against Iraq, the Techno-war is advanced as a means to an end, the primary way in which a conflict or problem is resolved.

The idea that technology is power goes back a long time in America. In "The Rise of American Technology," (Iowa State University Press), Friedrich Klemm writes that modern technology - at the heart of American global power and expansion -- took root in the United States more than anywhere else in the world.

The minute the colonies won independence from England, Klemm, writes, they began the process of technical development and industrialization, especially the steam-ship, the railway and the telegraph, all of which played key roles in the expansion westward.

Americans went on to become the premier inventors, engineers, builders and technologists in the world, from mills to cars and telephones. It was precisely this passion for building technology, writes Klemm, that made America so powerful and prosperous a country.

The computer may yet top all of these creations. Computers are changing the world, and computing, especially networked computing technology is at the heart of the Techno-War. The Internet perhaps reinforces the idea that because we are technologically advanced, we are more powerful than people who aren't. In this Techno-war, digital technology is used to study weather, pinpoint targets, assess damage, launch weapons, rescue downed pilots, knock-out defenses, and otherwise wage a "clean," relatively bloodless war, if you're on our end of it.

But the problem with Techno-Wars is that they don't seem to work, or when they do work, it's in limited ways. The massive bombing of Germany didn't shorten the war or force the Germans to end it. Israel and Great Britain have for years had the technological means to destroy their political adversaries in the Middle East and Ireland, but their superior technology haven't worked.

Techno-wars may be metaphors for hubris about the limits of technology, no matter how dazzling. It is stunning to watch all those Pentagon-arranged pictures of computer-programmed Tomahawk missiles lifting off from B-52's and sailing as much as 500 miles to fly through the doorways and windows of buildings. But they don't seem to be effective at stopping, or even slowing, the conflict and killing taking place hundreds of miles away.

Saddam Hussein has survived several Techno-Wars, emerging even stronger and more enrenched than he was before. He was pushed out of Kuwait not by a Techno-war, but by a pretty conventional one, in which troops and tanks lined up in the desert to push him back to Iraq.

Satellites and computers are able to find terrorists, but can't bring them to justice. Haiti is still an impoverished and repressive mess. (Grenada wasn't big enough to qualify as a Techno-war, more as a police action).

The world seems shocked when even the heads of tiny countries like Serbia defy technology. Watching these hi-tech tapes on TV night after night, there's the eerie but recurring sense that the only way NATO's goals will ever be achieved is if somebody like John Wayne takes a couple of thousand Marines into Belgrade and hauls somebody off to jail. But this solution would involve humans as much as machines. It wouldn't be a "clean" or "painless" Techno-war.

"Increasingly dejected by the inability of their dazzling weapons to bring Slobodan Milosevic to heel and stop the ethnic purge of Kosovo, NATO leaders are struggling to figure out what to do next if the bombing does not work," reported the New York Times on Wednesday.

The answer? More bombing, and bombing closer to urban centers. That means more casualties, and probably, even more resistance.

Techno-wars are powerful metaphors for the limits of and unpredictable nature of technology. - If technology is becoming more precise all the time, the human nature it's supposed to alter is inherently unpredictable. We have what we believe are rational reasons for deploying technology for political or humanitarian purposes. For the targets, the very machinery itself is a rationale for resistance. - Techno-wars are almost never bloodless. Since machines behave in unpredictable and erratic ways, people get killed on both sides. Clouds obscure satellites, planes malfunction and fall. A bomb's control system fails, or a missile goes awry and the same TV that transmits all those hi-tech pictures of precision bombs is suddenly showing dead civilian bodies. The political equation can change in an instant. - Even the most powerful technologies can be evaded by determined and resourceful opponents (the Viet Cong, Saddam Hussein, the Afghan resistance). Different cultures may resist technologically-imposed political solutions imposed from without, no matter how overpowering the technology is.

Technology can't in itself work quickly enough to compensate for poorly defined goals with little public support, unless it is employed so destructively - as in nuclear weapons - that the cure would be worse than the disease.

Put another way, Techno-Wars don't work unless the technology is unleashed to its devastating limits - as in Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- an unthinkable political option in any scenario short of Armageddon. So the irony of technology is that we have enough to destroy Saddam Hussein a million times over, but not without taking a chunk of Baghdad with him, something that the world would reject and no politician wants to do. In an odd sense, the reality is that the more powerful our technology, the less likely we are to use it.

Finally, as the Internet and World Wide Web and related computing technologies spread and grow beyond anyone's expectations, Techno-Wars remind us that technology isn't necessarily as powerful as we like to think it is. There are even bigger forces at work, and they don't care what we think or expect.

"Power is ultimately nature itself," writes technology historian and political scientist Langdon Winner, "released by the inquiries of science and made available by the inventive, organizing capacity of technics. All other sources of political power - wealth, pubic support, personal charisma, social standing, organized interest - are weak by comparison."

Or, put more bluntly in one of the corollaries to Murphy's Laws about technology (No. 5: Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad worse) first put forth in l949, "Mother nature is a bitch." jonkatz@slashdot.org

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Fighting the Techno-War

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is another way, Mormons!

    Send them in on their bicycles, wearing their purity pants, bibles in hand.

    Let's see how Milosevic feels when he gets woken up early on a Sunday morning by a knock on his door...

    And let's see him try to get rid of 'em!

    "....what's that Slobodan - you surrender?"

    :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm glad to see that at least one other Slashdot reader is 'up' on Balkan history. The strange alchemy by which Yugoslavia has been transformed from a model of multiculturalism to a country torn by 'ancient ethnic hatreds' by the press is profoundly disturbing because it offers such an easy excuse for us to back out.


    But to keep vaguely on topic, the technology of modern warfare is not so much the smart bombs we're dropping on Kosovo as the communications satellites and plain old newspapers that repeat that grainy video footage and still photos around the world.


    This is because all war is, ultimately, about mindshare. You can 'win' a battle by standing on a piece of land, but you win the war by convincing your enemies that you should be standing on that piece of ground. Conversely, your enemy wins by convincing you that you shouldn't be.


    And as the information age strenghtens its hold, the struggle over the representation of reality becomes increasingly important. Our enemies have understood this -- all it took to get us out of Somalia was a dead soldier being dragged through the street. The Somalis staged a photo-op when they invited the press to come see a 'demonstration' of Somali hatred for US intervention. And we bought it. The death of one soldier brought the most powerful military in the world to its knees by altering our perception of the war we were engaged in.


    The smart bombs and stealth fighters that people seem to believe make up modern warfare have all the emotional involvement of a video game. Bleep, bleep, bang. Watch the space invaders on the screen.


    So when that 'sanitary' emotional detachment is turned on its head by a clever adversary who uses the supposedly inferior technology of radio, television, and the printing press, our sense of dislocation leads to a desire to withdraw as quickly as possible to regain that detachment and distance from the suffering of others.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think John's piece is really trying to get at the fact that war is becoming more of a mediated event between perception and reality more than between two hostile parties. I don't agree with his dichotomy between nature/tribalism and created/technology, but I do think technology is having a profound effect on what war is becoming. It's more than how tanks, planes, and networks stack up against crazed dictators and guerillas fighters. It's about how technology creates a new battleground in the public sphere between perception and reality, which is especially suited for the guerillas, dictators, and evil captain kirks trying to control something as equally important as tangible goals like land or freedom from tyranny: technologically mediated global hegemony. Check out the French Philosopher, Paul Virilo, for more on the technologically mediated war.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Midway between favored NATO friend Turkey, and the unfinished Caspian Sea oil pipeline that we don't want to go through not-so-favored friend Russia.

    Care to provide more information? Aren't you confusing Kosovo and Chechenya?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Katz, and with your premise. But there is a bigger issue that you're missing. Something that Katz alluded (spelling?) to is that international politics is dealing with _people_, and just as importantly, people from other cultures and belief systems. We humans aren't 100% rational, none of us, no matter how much you may try otherwise. The trouble of a clean bombing war is that it takes the human aspect out of it. We all have our own unique feelings and perceptions. Machines don't. The people we are dealing with don't think like we do; and this techno-war, as Katz calls it, only obscures that.

    One thing that i hate about the current political situation is the absolute demonizing of the person of Milosovic. He isn't solely to blame (like Hitler was) for the *ethnic-cleansing.* The hate for Albanians is pervasive throughout all Serbs in the area. We need to deal with the perceptions and beliefs of an entire culture, not just a single leader. This is the travesty of the current war. Both sides of the conflict are guilty of ethnic hatred, thousands of PEOPLE, not just one man.

    To rebut your point, we _are_ dealing with rational people. But the simple logic of a material society (like ours) doesn't translate to a religious, ethnic region like Yugoslavia.

    There's something else that Katz hinted at, is that these are not bloodless wars. How many people died during the Gulf War? not 90 some, but 20,000 PEOPLE DIED. Same thing here is Yugoslavia. The death toll is in the thousands. But this clean technological TV cable view we have of the war hides this.

    One final comment. I'm somebody who is entering the (U.S.) Air Force. I'm prepared to give my life if need be. But I don't like this perception that these wars are bloodless. Wars are sometimes necessary, but people must remember what wars are: fighting for something that is right, not simply using violence to force them to do what we want them to. The Clinton foreign policy has continuously tried to do this, forgetting how other people think, what they believe in, and try to force our Western ideas on them (using violence if necessary).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let's suppose that Open Source would be outlawed. Let's suppose that a bunch of nerds start a militia and decide to fight. They're rational.
    And the Diplomacy of Violence wouldn't work, since they are idealists.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wars are never bloodless - anyone who thinks they can make it a useful tool without both intentional and inadvertent killing is deluding themself. I find this article amusing, because it points out most people's ignorance on the purpose and function of airstrikes, as well as the amazing lack of tenacity in the American public to accomplish a goal.

    Intensive strategic airstrikes are supposed to hit at the centers of command, control, and supply - relatively big, immobile targets - and in that sense, the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia are turning out to be a textbook example. Deprived of intelligence and logistic support, an opposing ground force can then annihilate them. Examples of this, not pointed out in the article, are the Croatian and Muslim armies in the recent Balkan conflicts, and the US army in the Gulf War, 1991, which were both greatly assisted by US airstrikes. In the latter, the US walked away from routing the world's fifth largest army with barely over a hundred casualties.

    While airstrikes can destroy targets of opportunity (small convoys of vehicles, etc) it is virtually impossible to inflict serious damage to a ground force from the air, unless they are dug in as a static defense, such as the Iraqi army in Kuwait. It's the ignorant politicians, knowing nothing about fighting, who make the incredible claims of "bloodless war" and "no civilian casualties".

    Something implicitly stated in the article is that somehow the airstrikes "aren't working" and are "a failure". Hello!...it's been little over a week, and we're already judging its effects? The Serbs have been planning and executing their campaign of ethnic cleansing for months, do you want NATO to give up simply because they don't roll over dead for us? Their ground forces are beginning to run short of food and supply, and eventually enough of the Yugoslav Army will be chipped away by airstrikes to make sending a ground force (or even arming the KLA) a viable option. I find it sickening in this something-for-nothing world that someone can plan for the murder and removal of over 2 million people, and bet that the American public doesn't have the stomach or the attention span to stop him. Even worse is that Milosevic is right.
  • There's only one way to get ground troops fighting in a "painless" war. Mech droids.
  • I thought perhaps at least someone would catch the irony. (Almost) unlimited power, wielded remotely without consequence or risk of personal harm is a very dangerous thing. Got a problem? Fire a cruise missle. Bad headlines? Blow up an aspirin factory.

    Ok, maybe I was being a bit of a smartass, but it's a valid point.

  • * An embargo will make Serbia poorer, but won't by itself remove Milosevic. You can be a dictator in a poor country as well; in fact, it's easier.

    Exactly. Look at the effect of trade restrictions against Cuba. Cubans have suffered terrible economic decline since the 60s. Castro owns the media, so he plays this up as evil U.S. imperialism and makes himself the hero. No matter what a Cuban thinks of Castro, how could he not resent the U.S. to some degree for making him, his family and friends suffer? As the old saying goes, "The devil ya' know is better than the devil ya' don't know."

  • Weapons will only ever be as good as the training of the people using them, BUT...

    Given a choice between using high-tech weapons and not, I'll take 'em. Any good soldier recognizes the value of the tools layed out in front of him.

    As with all tools, their value is in how you use them.

    ----

  • by Skyshadow (508)
    The Pentagon is saying it probably was a SAM that shot it down -- it seems an AWAC saw it go up.

    There are, after all, more than one way to skin a cat or, in this case, shoot down an airplane. Even the most slealthy airplane (and those things are very nearly impossible to spot on even the best radar sets) gives off a lot of heat. Fling a heat-seeker in its direction, and all you've got it a subsonic airplane and some flares.

    It's about that time you start wishing you'd signed up to fly an A-10...

    ----

  • Odd, both the Onion and Katz come out with an article about technowar. I think the Onion's got a more interesting take, however: Send a marine back in time to assasinate the Ottoman emperor in 1389 AD [theonion.com].

    ----

  • Actually, most of the tail end of that on the
    various news sites was saying it had to have been
    a mechanical malfunction (perhaps they got a pot
    shot off on it) - I and most of the experts quoted
    on CNN and ABC News think their 30 year old
    SAM technology didn't have a chance of shooting
    them down.
  • How else do you explain the fact that a $45 million "stealth" fighter gets shot down (most lilkely by an alert SAM operator)? Never underestimate the skill of your opponent.

  • ...or missile, as the case may be.

    If it *was* a mechanical malfunction, then the plane should have been grounded. Discounting pilot error (and I'm sure that they don't send newbie pilots up in stealth planes), theonly logical conclusion is that they were shot down (although I'm willing to concede it was a lucky hit..send up enough anti-aircraft rounds and you're bound to hit *something*).

  • The main reason most of the bombings during WWII were against civilian targets was because of the policy of night air raids. Until the German air defenses were destroyed or at least significantly impaired, losses were too heavy during day raids for extended day bombing campaigns.

    The technology of that day did not allow hitting individual targets during night raids. For that matter, day raids were no piece of cake either -- even with the famed Norden bombsight in broad daylight, American B-17's missed more often than they hit.
  • Unfortunately, I have to agree.

    Sherman's march and Lee's surrender ended the American Civil War, for example. But the rights of the blacks in the Southern United States could only be guaranteed by Federal troops. After ten years of occupation, the North had lost its stomach for that. The moment federal troops were withdrawn, the black population were back to being virtual slaves again.

    Force of arms can win a war, but cannot change the hearts and minds of the losers of that war.

    -E
  • Yugoslavia is to the WEST of Turkey.

    The Caspian Sea is to the EAST of Turkey.

    Go look at a map, fool. There's no way for a Caspian Sea pipeline to go through Yugoslavia to get to Turkey. The Caspian Sea is on the wrong side of Turkey for that to happen.

    See http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/caspian.html for more info on the geography of the Caspian sea oilfields area.

    Oh -- Noam Chomsky is going senile. Brilliant linguist, nice person, but he keeps thinking up bizarre things like oil pipelines that somehow skip over Turkey to get to Yugoslavia, then turn around and go back into Turkey. (huh? doesn't make sense? Now you get it!). Or else he's just doing like Ed Muth, and making it all up as he goes along. Either way, his web site is NOT providing facts, but, rather, is providing bizarre conspiracy theories similar to the right wing sites with their black helicopters baloney. Except that Noam is a left-wing conspiracy freak. Same difference.

    -- Eric
  • Posted by jereades:

    These cultures have not "been killing each other for centuries" -- the ethnic cleansing conducted by Serbian nationlists first in Bosnia and now in Kosovo is the product of a deliberate and callous fabrication of history as a means of attainting and maintaining political power.

    For reference:

    If nothing else, at least read Survival Guide -- probably the most poignant and clever book I've ever read. Basically, it's a tour-guide to a besieged Sarajevo covering the blacked-out nightly hotspots, corners to avoid because of constant sniper fire, and where to find water (the local creek), firewood (the city's parks), and food (grow it or scavenge in the fields under cover of night).

    But for a really good history and background on the current conflict, you have to read Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation.

  • Posted by jereades:

    An excellent point, but the fact is that all three 'ethnic' groups were coexisting peacefully in Bosnia before the intervention of a revived Serbian nationalism. In the early days of the war in Yugoslavia, many of the Serbs living in Sarajevo fought on the side of the so-called Muslisms and Croats. A constant refrain of the writing of the time is disbelief that a secular Western state could be undergoing such a bloody civil war based on nothing more than a fictional past of a Greater Serbia. In fact, intermarriage amongst the three 'distinct' groups was so great that often the only way to tell them apart was by surname... and we all know how much that means.


    Yes, there was a residual fear (which, as you pointed out, is not without a certain degree of legitimacy) amongst the rural Serbian 'peasantry' that a Croatian-dominated government might attempt to resume a policy of exclusion, even annihilation. But this fear was deliberately roused by Serbian nationalists such as Milosevic in the pursuit of political power. None of the sides in this series of wars comes out smelling like roses -- the partitioning of post-war Bosnia reveals the cynical manipulation carried out by political leaders on all sides, but when you look at Sarajevo before the war you see a functioning multi-cultural city within a functioning multi-cultural state.


    The problem is that "ancient ethnic hatreds" is an easy out for the West. We simply throw up our hands and walk away saying "there's nothing we can do." But the truth is that there was something we could have done then (we could have defended Sarajevo and Bosnia against both Serb and Croat partitioning and held it up to the rest of Yugoslavia as the only thing worth fighting for and not over) and there's something we can do now (we can uphold the principle of self-determination upon which Western culture is supposedly founded and show that democracies can and will stand up to genocidal nationlists -- basically, we can make amends for WWII).


    As a kind of aside: Rwanda was another country that we abandonned to 'ancient hatreds' until much of the killing was over as we could step in and try to look good. What most newspapers never bothered to say/discover was that this ethnic hatred was rooted in the policies of the Belgian colonial administration. Belgian administrators resurrected the myth of two founding peoples in Rwanda and allocated senior positions in the colonial government to those lumped under the term "Tutsi." Hutus were denied these positions on the basis of 'race.' How did the Belgians distinguish between these two 'races?' By the number of cows an individual owned. More than, as I remember, four cows and you were a wealthy Tutsi. Fewer and you must be Hutu. I think you'll agree that ownership is a pretty inaccurate way to determine 'racial' membership. But somehow, this became the reason to kill 500,000 of you neighbours.


    Identity is malleable and constantly in a process of fabrication and reconstruction. There is a Yugoslavia in which people have been killing each other for millenia. But there is another Yugoslavia that was a tolerant, multi-ethnic state. By waiting so long to intervene in Bosnia, we allowed the ascendance of one identity over another (in this case, I believe, the 'bad' over the 'good') and the consequence was a cultural, if not fully physical, genocide -- a thousand years of largely peaceful coexistence were wiped out and replaced by a bloody, nationalist vision of history. We have an opportunity now to prevent a repeat in Kosovo.


    I actually agree that "The air war will change nothing" in the sense that it will not solve the essential problem of Serbian/Kosovar identity (which hinges, thanks to nationalist rhetoric, upon the occupation of Kosovo), but I think that's also because we're going about it the wrong way. We believe that a santized air war will somehow save us from the very dirty, lengthy, and complicated process of establishing an environment in which moderates have a 'fighting' chance of creating a Serbian identity that is not contingent upon the posession of a battlefield upon which the Serbs lost over six hundred years ago to the Ottoman Empire, and a Kosovar identity that does not hinge upon the denial of Serbian rights within a primarily Albanian state. It might be messy. It will be complicated. But we should not walk away -- we have the capability and we have the ethical obligation.

  • Posted by ostbahn:

    The Germans very well could have won the war in the air, if they had not been so stupid as to stop targeting the RAF, and start bombing civilian centers. The RAF was very close to complete destruction, when the Germans suddenly started targeting urban London, in retaliation to the RAF bombing of German cities.
  • Posted by LOTHAR, of the Hill People:

    Unfortunately WAR does work. If you're willing to fight a war on an "Old Testament" scale, like the Romans rolling into Carthage, you can win your war.

    There are two kinds of War
    War between governments and War between people.

    The Falkland Islands war is a good example of a war between governments. A war between government is fought until one side surrenders. Reparations are then made, and life goes on.

    A war between people are always more brutal. These wars aren't fought until one side surrendures, but are fought until one side decides they have won. Genocide is often the result. It does not take supertechnology to acheive this end, just lots of hate and a strong stomach. "Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Israel" These are not examples of the kind of conflict that is occurring within Serbia/Kosovo. Slobedan has no interest in the occupants of Kosovo, and it's quite obvious that he prefers Kosovo unoccupied.
  • Posted by LOTHAR, of the Hill People:

    The Falkland Island War was Fought in the late 70's between Argentina and the UK over the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. It was mostly a Naval/Air war. When Argentina lost all its ships and planes, they surrendured and gave up their claim to the Falkland Islands. It was a short war. It'sthe only war between two NATO countries that I am aware of. The UK was a little peeved about the fact that Argentina was a very good customer for American weapons. The UK lost a prize destroyer to a US made cruise missile.
  • Posted by LOTHAR, of the Hill People:

    I stand corrected.

    I wasn't sure about its NATO status. I just knew it was fought with NATO weapons on both sides, making for interesting military history.

    The details of the war are a little foggy, I havent thought of it in many years. and is not a particularly relevant thread, but thanks for the correction
  • The prison population is at record levels, I think. It's a drain on the numbers of unemployed. "Employment" means what, anyway? If someone works two hours, do they count as employed as well? If a family has multi-breadwinners holding down multi jobs, that's a lot of employment, but does that compare well to the old paradigm of a single breadwinner earning enough to supply the family's needs? Since it's harder to get unemployment benefits than in olden times, wouldn't that mean that the measure of unemployment is lowballed compared to those olden times? There is a segment of the population that has "fallen off the map"; they aren't counted in the figures.

    I think the guy from West Philly was talking about the difference between statistics and real life. I didn't read the article linked to the top of the thread, but since Greenspan was the impetus for this part of the thread, I'll mention this: Greenspan likes to speak of job insecurity as a Good Thing. It keeps wage demands down in general, which helps keep inflation down. While the numbers bear him out, I'm not happy with his cold-blooded logic. There is no discussion about why this particular low level of inflation is needed; its desirability is taken as a given.

    I won't try to draw a line from "Good Economic Numbers" to "Urban Decay" - I'm sure economists like Ken Galbraith and Doug Henwood (et mucho alia, including non-economists like Chomsky, I suppose) have written volumes that would better explain it. To ask someone to do it here is a sucker's bet - and it's sort of a time-wasting wiseass question. (Though I will point out that Perot's famed "Giant Sucking Sound" -- which contributes to Greenspan's beloved "job insecurity" -- refers, in part, to jobs that, in the past, brought some degree of prosperity to the inner city). As someone who has spent time in some horrid parts of the Bronx, Manhattan, Newark, Baltimore, and the rural South during the stock market booms of the 60's and 80's, I can testify to the well-fed's willful disconnect between good numbers and real life.

    I see an increasingly brittle economy. I'd love to just bask in Dow 10,000, a healthy portfolio, and Labor Department figures and not intuit the brittleness that I do. Look at Japan, Australia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Brazil... it is, after all, a global economy, right? There's a lot of bad numbers out there.

    I guess the acid test will be the inevitable downturn. Congress had to coerce Bush into signing supplemental bills to provide unemployment benefits for people during the last recession -- the result of tightening eligibility rules. I think much more extensive activity will occur next time. It won't be pretty. I'd love to be proven wrong. We'll see.

    --

  • by Damon C. Richardson (913) on Friday April 02, 1999 @09:49AM (#1951820) Homepage
    I was in Desert Storm. Putting all the crap about oil a side. We were there to release Kuwait from the control of Iraq. I can remember the month of bombings. It was very very effective at removing the fight from Iraq ground troops.
    Don't forget that Iraq would have been alot longer if we did not "soften" them up with Air attacks.
    Still in the end it took Ground troops. Until the ground troops went in Kuwait was still being looted. No matter how many bombs fell. I can remeber being at the Kuwait international airport. The Marines were still running into small pockets of resistance.

    War has changed alot since WW2. Still the basic's have not changed.

    1. You have to degrade there supply's.
    2. Remove there ablity to move supply's to there troops.
    3. Remove there ablity to communicate with there own troops.
    4. Control the sky's over the conflict.
    5. Ground troops must take and hold the land.

    I really don't like to see Current conflicts compared to Vetnam. I see the biggest difference being that fact that we have a all volenter army. These soldiers are professinals at what they do. They are trained and equiped to carry out the will of our nation. The also KNOW THE REAL DEAL. They know that they will have to fight. They know that they may have to die. The accepted that when they joined. They have been reminded ever since they first showed up for Basic Training. The american public may want to believe in a new world where our toys will do the fighting. but the Military stills knows that People will have to sacrifice there lives. The Infantry knows that they are the final word when it comes to winning a armed conflict.

    Kuwait was not free till Coalition troops could hold the land. In a way it is sick to kill with out having to get your hands dirty. Getting your hands dirty is the only way to understand the sacrifice.

    Independance for Kosovo now!
  • A paper tiger that has 11000 nuclear warheads pointed to every other NATO country... sure it's not a superpower anymore, but they still have what it takes to remove all forms of life from this planet.

    Russia will not go to war with NATO over Serbia. They want to pretend like they are still a significant world power, so they oppose everything the US does. They won't back it up.

    As for nukes? Jesus, do you really think Russia would launch ICBMs over this?
  • Well at least learn to spell cannibal.
  • The handling of Castro was a giant CF from day one. Castro did make public appearances, CIA just screwed up. There seemed to be a real trend for that at the time (Bay of Pigs, Vietnam etc).

    I agree that NATO doesn't want to get into the assasination business, that's why it would be one man. Nothing's illegal if you don't get caught.

  • The problem with cyberwarfare is that it isn't intended to win a war.

    If the US had really wanted Saddam dead, a single gunman could have pulled it off. If we wanted Milosovec dead, once again, a single gunman could do the job.

    The reason killing those men isn't an objective is because they are more symptom than cause. Kill Saddam, and someone will step up to take his place. The same for Milosovec. It's the cultures themselves that are the cause of the problem, and you can't change that with any sort of warfare or force.

    For example, Isrial vs. PLO. You'll notice that once the leaders were nearly brought together for a peace agreement, we saw an asassination and a new hard line leader elected. The culture as a whole did not WANT peace. Kill the 'bad guy' and the culture will find a new one.

    In other cases, it's not so much that the culture wants conflict, but that the society has an innate weakness that allows such leaders to come into power. Get rid of the leader, and as often as not, another will surface.

    Those are HARD problems, and most polititions like to stay away from hard problems.

    The reason we're suddenly seeing these problems is that the Soviet Union was supressing all of this by force before. As soon as the force was removed, the fundamental problem reemerged with a vengance.

    Cyberwarfare IS good for the first 80% of winning a war. That last 20% is the problem. The last 20% is the part where tanks and infantry must go door to door supressing the enemy. It isn't flashy, or soundbite friendly. It is dangerous for the troops. That's probably why we keep skipping that part and wondering why nothing fundamental changed.

  • Indeed, there are many faces to propaganda/facts. See here [www.gov.yu] for a different perspective.
  • You compare the bombings in Serbia with the bombings of Germany during WWII. There is an important difference in that most of the bombings during WWII were against civilian targets (cities), hoping to demoralize the population. That turned out not to work. Late in the war, they started concentrating on the factories and oil depots, which gave a much larger bang for the buck (pun intended).
    Another interesting difference between WWII bombings and these hi-tech weapons is that in this case the weapons used to destroy a target may be many times more expensive than the target itself. Granted, the US has a lot of money, but will it really pump that much into a war?

    -Lars
  • The 117 was never meant to be "invisible," just
    somewhat "less visible."

    If the air defenses shot down the plane because
    of luck instead of skill, they'd have also been
    able to shoot down the rescue helicopter, which
    is a much larger target, in both visible and
    radar wavelengths.




    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita
  • by Phil-14 (1277)
    "The overland Caspian Sea pipeline either has to go through Yugoslavia, or through Russia..."

    Since when? It could go any number of routes
    bypassing either... if it can go through Yugo-
    slavia, it can come down the other side of the
    Balkans through Romania to Greece, or just stop
    at the Black Sea somewhere in Ukraine...


    If the terminus actually had to be in Yugoslavia,
    I hate to break the news to you, but controlling
    the terminus isn't of very much strategic value
    when the rest of the pipeline's thousands of
    miles of length isn't in your control.




    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita

  • by Phil-14 (1277)
    The pipeline goes through Turkey and has to get to Western Europe.

    In which case it could go through Greece, up through Romania/Bulgaria/whatever, thence northward around Yugoslavia... I have to admit, from what I know of pipelines, that this particular conspiracy theory doesn't make sense. Pipelines are too vulnerable. Hard to make, easy to break, and difficult to guard.

    Tankers would be easier.

    Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita

  • I also agree that this is a very good article. I'd suggest reading if your interested in the political side of this war.
  • Both of them [Milosovic and Hussein] suffer to a degree from the same problem Hitler did.

    Oh no, a Hitler reference already. Did this thread really need to die this quickly? Godwin's law rules though.

  • by nstrug (1741)
    Because there is no such thing as a 'declariation of war'. It's a political myth. The US never declared war against Northern Vietnam, NATO never declared war against Iraq, the UK never declared war against Argentina.
    Nick
  • The Armed Forces do not and should not have any relationship to the "honor" of the United States. They are explicitly under civilian control. I'd much rather have president with no military service than one who believes it is the army's job to protect the country from the excesses of democracy.
    Let us also rememeber that JFK, LBJ, and Nixon all had military backgrounds-- yet the Vietnam Conflict was a bit of a disaster.
  • AFAIK, the position of the United States is that POWs can result from a general class of armed conflicts that include, but are not limited to wars. The Vietnam "War" was never a declared war, yet captured soldiers were considered POWs.

    Of course, it was also the position of the US that the Montenegro operation was a seperate conflict, and that their capture was "kidnapping." Either the Serbs are bound by the Geneva Convention, or they're international terrorists.
    Mistreatment of the prisoners is either an act of terrorism, or a war crime.
  • If technology is used to obfuscate the reality of war, is writing about technology in war used for the same reason? Put another way, if you duck talking about the rights or wrongs of the mission, or the interests/purposes it serves, is the rest of this piece a red herring?
  • What you're saying then, is 'if you get bombed, do as you're told.' That's rational, I presume -- though I'm less sure if that if the US was getting bombed by someone with the declared intention of protecting a minority within our borders, we would respond as 'rational actors'. Just a thought. (Apologies for the we=USA language)
  • FYI: the region of serbia known as Kosovo is entirely landlocked. It borders with Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Monetnegro. Montenegro is the costal portion of Yugoslavia. However, it should be noted, due to the political structure of Yugoslavia, Montenegro has managed to declare neutrality in this situation. In fact, their leader (I forget his name) officially broke with Milosivic.

    As for requiring costal access, this is not necessairly true. Switzerland and Austria seem to do fine. As do many other land locked nations.
  • Recently the United States has been really big on using the Diplomacy of Violence. Essentially, this amounts as violence from afar to acheive political goals. Usually this is done with planes or missiles and no men on the ground. Components of Katz's techo-war.

    But there is a problem with such a situation. Diplomacy of Violence only works if dealing with a rational actor on the other end. If the person with whom they are trying to "negotiate" with is able to weigh the costs and benefits of a situation, then it will work.

    But the problem lies in the fact that Milosovic and Hussein are not rational actors. Both of them suffer to a degree from the same problem Hitler did. Hitler was fanatical about the destruction of the Soviet people. So much so that he overlooked many common military procedures and diverted troops to what ended up as a disastrous operation (the whole thing about not bringing winter clothes when going to Moscow was a bad idea to).

    Milosovic suffers from the same problem. He is a fanatical nationalist determined to see an ethnically pure Serbian state, and is willing to stop at no cost in order to acheive this. That is why the current Diplomacy of Violence will not work. All it has done since bombing began was speed up the clensing process and increase the Serbian resolve to continue.

    I'm not trying to say one way or another what I think about the hurrent conflict, as that is irrevelent to the message of this post. What I'm trying to say is that the techno-war will inevitably fail against non-rational actors.
  • If you mean these last few conflicts have been nearly 100% propaganda on both sides, I'd say I agree.


    In Vietnam, the reporting was at least in part impartial, with (admittedly inflated) body counts showing in the corner of the screen. The fighting being shown was real too.


    In the gulf and now in Serbia, actual numbers are hidden, and the "conflicts" are staged. Serbia is blowing up it's own houses for the benifit of TV crews, and NATO is doing the same. In the Bosnia affair, we had Croats shell their own buildings and beaches for the benefit of Western TV crews.


    In the gulf, the viewing public was treated only to grainy images of the miraculous accuracy of our "smart bombs". No mention of the 750,000 Iraqi casualties.


    --
    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • A brief rundown of the US bombing world tour:

    China 1945-46
    Korea 1950-53
    China again 1950-53
    Guatemala 1954
    Indonesia 1958
    Cuba 1959-60
    Guatemala 1960
    Congo 1964
    Peru 1965
    Laos 1964-73
    Vietnam 1961-73
    Cambodia 1969-70
    Guatemala 1967-69
    Grenada 1983
    Libya 1986
    El Salvador 1980s
    Nicaragua 1980s
    Panama 1989
    Iraq 1991-99
    Sudan 1998
    Afghanistan 1998
    Yugoslavia 1999

    If only the rest of the world would simply accept that the US is always right, they wouldn't have any trouble!


    --
    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • More accurately, they've been fucking each other.
    Kossovo used to be nearly 50% Serbian. Since the 1980's, that Serbian population has been uh, dealt with by ethnic Albanians.


    The KLA is also nearly 100% an American creation. Those are US-supplied arms they're using, and there have been artocities on BOTH sides, not just Milosevic.


    Oh, and the "genocide" is 2000 dead Kossovars, nearly all KLA and combatants, not helpless civilians like CNN tells you they are.


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  • Morale on capitol hill has been low since the end of the cold war. Damn hard to bomb who you want when you want without the "anti-communist" cover.


    Wars are very convenient for boosting profits and keeping the public in check. If no other country is willing to stand up and be the big aggressive asshole, then it will just have to be the US.


    --
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  • General Motors

    General Electric

    Lockheed

    Boeing

    Exxon/Mobil


    Just off the top of my head.


    --
    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • I was just listing the countries we weren't officially at war with, and bombings that violate the UN charter.


    Hiroshima is questionable, Nagasaki was certainly a war crime, as was the "finale" (the massive conventional bombing raid against Japan after they surrendered).


    As I have gone a bit off-topic, this post is sure to be moderated.


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  • You must watch a lot of TV.


    The original poster is 100% correct. There is no genocide going on, it's a civil war. A civil war that is a lot more bloodless than our own 130 years ago I might add.


    The real crimes are:

    1) Demanding that Milosevic allow NATO troops in Kossovo. Not UN peacekeepers, NATO troops. Milosevic rejected this provision and only this provision.

    2) By provoking a conflict, NATO caused all human rights monitors and journalists to be (understandably) ejected. The NATO commander in the region said this would result in a stepping up of the violence against civilians, as did the director of the CIA. This really makes the refugee problem in part NATO's doing.


    Turn off the TV and use your head. You'll find that real life is not so good guy/bad guy as the state department would have you believe.


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    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • If the Warsaw Pact nationa demanded that Russian soldiers be stationed in LA to prevent another riot, what do you think the US's response would be?


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    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • We don't give two shakes about the Kosovo Albanians and never have. If the US was at all concerned about humanitarian causes, I can name about 20 situations around the world where the situation is much worse.


    This intervention, like all US interventions, is about money and power and nothing else. All the noise about humanitarianism/anticommunism/antiterrorism is just that. Noise.

    Judging from the ammount of support on /. here, the propaganda seems to be pretty effective.


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  • I don't know the circumstances, I'm merely quoting Chomsky (again). I got it from www.zmag.org


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  • genocide is the systematic eradication of an entire ethnic group. Only 2000 KLA combatants have died to my knowledge. Bad yes, murder yes, but hardly genocide.


    The state dept. likes to use strong words like genocide because it sounds more serious than murder or war.


    Oh, and I am getting news, I just run it through my bullshit filter before I repeat it.


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  • I'm combining civilian and military casualties from the entire campaign (but not the sanctions).


    It was really hard to find those numbers too. They don't print them in the paper.


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  • Maybe I'm paranoid, or maybe my trust in the executive branch is completely shattered, but I think those boys were set up to be captured.

    If I were Clinton, and I knew I had to get ground troops in there at all costs, I'd want to make it look like I was forced to do it as much as possible.


    They carefully selected the men by state too. From TX, CA, and MI. 3 large, important, populous and yet diverse states.


    Why were they in harms way? Where was the rest of their unit? Did the Serbs just climb out of the sewer? Very fishy.


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  • Isn't it always about oil?


    The overland Caspian Sea pipeline either has to go through Yugoslavia, or through Russia. Neither zone is under US or NATO control. Since NATO troops in Russia is out of the question, they have to go into Yugoslavia. NATO demanded Milosevic allow troops on the ground and would not back down on that point. Neither will Milosevic, so NATO will insert itself forcably.


    Don't just believe me though. If you believe what the TV says, this will be a limited war and ground troops will not be considered. I predict however that there *will* be troops on the ground no matter what happens in Yugoslavia.


    I give it a couple weeks.


    --
    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • It's about recourced and concessions.


    We overthrow central american governments so that United Fruit (and others) could move in. We installed the Shah in Iran to secure 50% of the British oil concessions. We supported Saddam, because he gave us oil too. When he tried to take the Kuwaiti oil fields, our favored friend turned into the Butcher of Baghdad. We supported and financed the Indonesian takeover of East Timor in exchange for yet more oil drilling rights. The list goes on.


    But hey, the price of oil stays just low enough, and we all get to drive around our SUV's.


    --
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  • The pipeline goes through Turkey and has to get to Western Europe. I couldn't tell you where the eastern end goes exactly, but around the Black Sea would route you through Russia.


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  • I lifted this off zmag.org again.



    The following is a translation of last night's
    speech by the Prime Minister of Japan, explaining
    why the Japanese air force bombed military bases
    and command-and-control installations in the
    American Southwest:


    "My fellow citizens:
    Today our armed forces joined our allies
    in the Pacific Rim Organization for National
    Treaty Observance in air strikes against American
    forces responsible for the brutality in New
    Mexico. We have acted with resolve for several reasons.
    We act to protect thousands of innocent
    people in New Mexico from a mounting military
    offensive by the `border patrol.' We act to defuse
    a powder keg at the heart of North America that
    has exploded twice before in the last century and
    a half with catastrophic results, when the US
    invaded Mexico in 1846 and 1916. We act to stand
    united with our allies for peace. By acting now,
    we are upholding our values, protecting our
    interests, and advancing the cause of peace.
    Tonight I want to speak with you about the
    tragedy in New Mexico and why it matters to Japan
    that we work with our allies to end it.

    First, let me explain what it is we are
    responding to. New Mexico is a state of the
    United States, in the middle of southwestern North
    America, about 1500 miles west of Cuba -- that's
    less than the distance from Hokkaido to Okinawa --
    and only about 1000 miles north of Mexico City.
    Its people are mostly ethnic Latino and mostly
    Catholic.

    In recent years America's leader, Bill
    Clinton, the same leader who started the wars in
    Iraq and Colombia and attacked Sudan and
    Afghanistan in the last decade, increased the
    authority of the federal
    secret police, the `INS'; Mexicans are denied
    their right to speak their language, run their
    schools, shape their daily lives. For years,
    Latinos struggled peacefully to get their rights
    back. When President Clinton
    sent his troops and police to crush them, the
    struggle grew violent.

    The American leaders refuse even to
    discuss key elements of the Japanese peace
    proposal. America has stationed Marines along the
    border in preparation for a major offensive.
    We've seen innocent people taken from their homes,
    forced to kneel in the dirt and sprayed with
    bullets; Mexican men dragged from their families,
    fathers and sons together lined up and shot in
    cold blood. This is not war in the traditional
    sense. It is an attack by armored vehicles and
    high-tech weapons on a largely defenseless people
    whose leaders speak only of peace.

    Ending this tragedy is a moral
    imperative. It is also important to Japan's
    national interests. Take a look at the map. New
    Mexico is a small place, but it sits on a major
    fault line between North America,
    Latin America, and the Pacific, at the meeting
    place of Catholicism and both the liberal and
    evangelical branches of Protestantism. To the
    South are our allies, Peru (whose president is of
    Japanese descent) and Venezuela (which produces oil); to the north our
    increasingly important trading partner, Canada.
    And all around New Mexico there are other
    states struggling with their own economic and
    political challenges, states that could be
    overwhelmed by a large new wave of refugees from
    New Mexico -- California, Texas, Arizona. All the
    ingredients for a major war are there: Ancient
    grievances, struggling democracies, and in the
    center of it all, a president in America of highly
    questionable personal character who has done
    nothing since the Cold War ended but start new
    wars and pour gasoline on the flames of ethnic and
    religious division.

    In neighboring Guatemala President Clinton
    recently acknowledged that American support for
    torture and murder cost 200,000 lives. Earlier,
    World War II engulfed the Pacific. In both wars,
    the world was slow to recognize the dangers, and
    Japan held back from entering these conflicts.
    Just imagine if leaders back then had acted wisely
    and early enough. How many lives could have been
    saved? How many Japanese would not have had to
    die?

    We learned some of the same lessons in
    Nicaragua and El Salvador a decade ago. The
    world did not act early enough to stop those wars,
    either. And let's not forget what happened:
    Innocent people herded into concentration camps;
    children gunned down by snipers on their way to
    school; soccer fields and parks turned into
    cemeteries; a quarter of a million people killed
    not because of anything they had done but because
    of who they were. Two million Central Americans
    became refugees.

    This was genocide in the heart of the
    Americas, not in 1945 but in 1985, not in some
    grainy newsreel from our parents' and
    grandparents' time, but in our own time, testing
    our humanity and our resolve.

    At the time, many people believed nothing
    could be done to end the bloodshed in Central
    America, They said, `Well, that's just the way
    those people in the Americas are.' But when we and
    our allies in the UN joined with courageous
    Central Americans to stand up to the aggressors,
    we helped end the wars. We learned that in the
    Americas inaction in the face of brutality simply
    invites more brutality, but firmness can stop
    armies and save lives. We must apply that lesson
    in New Mexico, before what happened in Central
    America happens there too.

    Today we and our PRONTO allies agreed to
    do what we must do to restore the peace. Our
    mission is clear: to demonstrate the seriousness
    of PRONTO's purpose so that the American leaders
    understand the imperative of reversing course; to
    deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent
    civilians in New Mexico; and if necessary, to
    seriously damage the American military's capacity
    to harm the people of New Mexico. In short, if
    President Clinton will not make peace, we will
    limit his ability to make war.

    Now, I want to be clear with you, there
    are risks in this military action -- risk to our
    pilots and the people on the ground. America's
    air defenses are strong. It could decide to
    intensify its assault on New
    Mexico or to seek to harm us or our allies
    elsewhere. If it does, we will deliver a forceful
    response. Hopefully Mr. Clinton will realize his
    present course is self-destructive and
    unsustainable.

    If he decides to accept our peace proposal
    and demilitarize New Mexico, PRONTO has agreed to
    help to implement it with a peacekeeping force.
    If PRONTO is invited to do so, our troops should
    take part in that mission to keep the peace. But
    I do not intend to put our troops in New Mexico to
    fight a war.

    Do our interests in New Mexico justify the
    dangers to our armed forces? I thought long and
    hard about that question. I am convinced that the
    dangers of acting are far outweighed by the
    dangers of not acting --
    dangers to defenseless people and to our national
    interests. If we and our allies were to allow
    this war to continue with no response, President
    Clinton would read our hesitation as a license to
    kill. There would be many more massacres -- tens of thousands more
    refugees, more victims crying out for revenge.
    Right now our firmness is the only hope the people
    of New Mexico have to be able to live in their own
    country without having to fear for their own
    lives.

    Imagine what would happen if we and our
    allies decided just to look the other way as these
    people were massacred on PRONTO's doorstep. That
    would discredit PRONTO, the cornerstone on which
    our Pacific security rests.

    We must also remember that this is a
    conflict with no natural national boundaries. Let
    me ask you to look again at a map. The arrows
    show the movement of refugees -- north, east, and
    west. Already this
    movement is threatening the unstable democracy in
    Texas, which has its own Mexican minority and an
    Indian minority. Already American forces have
    made forays into Mexico, from which New Mexicans
    have drawn support. Mexico has a Mayan minority.
    Let a fire burn here in this area, and the flames
    will spread. Eventually key Japanese allies could
    be drawn into a wider conflict, which we would be
    forced to confront later only at far greater risk
    and greater cost.

    I have a responsibility as Prime Minister
    to deal with problems such as this before they do
    permanent harm to out national interests. Japan
    has a responsibility to stand with our allies when
    they are trying to save innocent lives and
    preserve peace, freedom, and stability in North
    America. That is what we are doing in New Mexico.
    If we have learned anything form the
    century drawing to a close, it is that if Japan is
    going to be prosperous and secure we need a North
    America that is prosperous, secure, united, and
    free. We need a North America that is coming
    together, not falling apart, a North America that
    shares our values and shares the burdens of
    leadership. That is the foundation on which the
    security or our children will depend. That is why
    I have supported NAFTA and the economic
    unification of North America.

    Now, what are the challenges to that
    vision of a peaceful, secure, united, stable North
    America? The challenge of strengthening a
    three-way partnership with the EU, that despite
    our disagreements is a constructive partner in the
    work of building peace. The challenge of
    resolving the tension between Latin and indigenous
    peoples, and building bridges with the Christian
    world. And finally the challenge of ending
    instability in the United States so that these
    bitter ethnic problems are resolved by the force
    of argument, not the force of arms, so that future
    generations of Japanese do not have to cross the
    Pacific to fight another terrible war. It is this
    challenge that we and our allies are facing in New
    Mexico. That is why we have acted now, because we
    care about saving innocent lives, because we have
    an interest in avoiding an even crueler and
    costlier war, and because our children need and
    deserve a peaceful, stable, free North America.

    Our thoughts and prayers tonight must be
    with the men and women of our armed forces who are
    undertaking this mission for the sake of our
    values and our children's future. May God bless
    them, and may God bless Japan."




    --
    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • Midway between favored NATO friend Turkey, and the unfinished Caspian Sea oil pipeline that we don't want to go through not-so-favored friend Russia.


    Pretty obvious why NATO troops need to be on the ground there. I give it 2 weeks tops.


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    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

  • http://www.zmag.org/mar24johnstone.htm


    Chechnya is way way East.


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  • Oh yes. When I think "Albania", I think "money and power". Not. Please explain to me how money and power are the driving forces in NATO's war. I don't think you can. I think Clinton was worried about becoming the president who stood by while Kosovo "happened".

    And yes, there are other regions of the world which are as bad as Kosovo. So what! NATO is having enough trouble handling *one* of them, I hpe you're not suggesting we jaunt off to Sierra Leone now too!

    Just because Clinton has clumsy foreign policy practices doesn't mean he's engaged in some sinister geo-political powerplay in Serbia and Albania.

  • Does that count as a "real American city"?
  • Finally someone who knows what he's talking about.

    Unfortunately this discussion has basically been spammed and slammed by a bunch of individuals who don't know what the hell they're talking about. It's oh so trendy these days to snipe at the US for basically trying to use their power to help improve the world. (Clinton's bumblimgs aside).

    We need to listen to this guy. He knows what the score is. He's keeping it real.
  • "Isn't it always about oil?"

    Yes, of course Somalia, Grenada, Beruit, Panama, they were all about oil.

    And I'd like to know what TV you're refering to. Mine won't SHUT UP about the possibility of ground troops. I think the only one who DOESN'T see it coming is Clinton. Typical.
  • by planet_hoth (3049)
    Jeez, aren't we being a little dramatic here? And do you really believe Greenspan is responsible for urban decay? I don't see the logic, I'm sorry...

    Low inflation + low unemployment != urban decay
  • Yeah, we are bullying Serbia. What do we want from them? To stop persecuting the Kosovar Albanians. So we're bullying a bully, because force is the only thing he'll understand.

    I don't care for the way Clinton and the other NATO leaders are executing the war either. I guess that's the price you pay for living in a society where civilians, not the military, call the shots. But I think the ideas behind our actions are well meaning, at least.

    I'm not really sure why you are opposed. I'm not saying there *aren't* legit reasons to be opposed, but you just seem to be saying that it's too easy or something.


  • You made a couple...interesting remarks there.

    "I do wish Greenspan worried less about inflation and more about jobs."

    Last I check, enemployment was at a 29-year low in the States.

    "what's so great about the constitution?"

    Uhh, besides being the basis for most other western governments for the last 200 years, nothing, I guess. ;)
  • i don't know if you read the salon article on the history of the yugoslav republics, but it's even worse. historically, the serbs celebrate a huge military loss as most ppl do a victory. they're not afraid to just fight until they're dead.

    poor albanians. the serbs have been fucking with them for years in kosovo. why do ppl insist on running governments with the overtly abusive aspects of culture in mind rather than with an eye to suppress those abusive tendencies? damn megalomaniacs.

    grumbling,

    -l
  • Only one area where I really disagree with you...

    "The trouble with this is that this time Milesovic has nothing to lose: he is going to lose Kosovo anyway - autonomy will lead to independence. It's better for him to lose it in a fight. Wars really hurt democratic leaders but they really help despotic ones tighten their grip. In this way NATO is helping him."

    If Milosovic is going to lose anyway, I think it'd be better for him if he were to lose with his military intact than for him to lose with his military hurt by weeks of air bombardment. A despot does not need an excuse to tighten his grip; if his military were to be seriously hurt, it would decrease his power, not increase it.

    I honestly don't know why he wants Kosovo - the amount of resources he's spending and losing because of his present course of action are surely not as great as the resources he'd gain from keeping the region. It would have been much smarter for him to cede the area to Albania or give it independence or whatever and let the people there consider themselves to be indebted to him.
  • Our future is closely entwined in that of Western Europe. We will always act in ways that we hope will encourage long-term stability in that area. Whether our chosen actions are appropriate or not remains to be seen.
  • A riot is a spontaneous, unplanned outburst or confrontation, whearas the activity in Kosovo is carefully planned, directed and urged to continue by governing power of that country.

    If the US government suddenly decided that all Mormons currently living in the state of Utah should be systematically killed and/or driven on foot to the Canadian boarder in the middle of winter, and outside countries expressed outrage and demanded intervention, I would think their reactions very civilized and appropriate.
  • ... except that it might be one of the rare case where mentioning Hitler might be appropriate ...
  • The quote here is from PJ O'Rourke's book "All the Trouble in the World" (1994), which I strongly recommend. His politics are not my cup of tea but PJ, when he writes on things political, can make things astonishingly clear and funny, too. His new book, "Eat the Rich" is very funny, too.

    "The way Tito kept Yugoslavs from killing each other was he did it for them. This is the same technique used by the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians, Nazi Germans, and everyone else who's had the misfortune to rule the Balkans. The locals have to be provided
    with an ample supply of new grievances, otherwise old grievances come to the fore. In Tito's case, one of the old grievances was Tito.

    Although Tito himself was of mixed Croat/Slovene/son-of-a-bitch background, his World War II Partisan troops were mostly Serbs. In 1946, 100,000 anti-Tito Croat refugees were handed over to Tito by the ever-admirable British. Tito's partisans then killed something between 40,000 and all of them, with the usual number of women, children, and old people included. Of course, the Partisans didn't do this for a lark. The Croats, under raving nationalist Ante Pavelic, had established a Nazi puppet state in 1941 and killed as many as 350,000 Serbs.........

    Who Hates Who, and Why...

    The Christians hate the Muslims because Cristians were peons under the Ottomans. The Muslims hate the Christians because Muslims were pissants under the Communists. The Croats hate the Serbs for collaborating with the Communists the same way the Serbs hate the Croats for collaborating with the Nazis, and now the Bosnians hate the Montnegrins for collaborating with the Serbs. The Serbs hate the Albanians for going to Yugoslavia. Everybody hates the Serbs because there are more of them than anybody else to hate and because when Yugoslavia was created in 1918 (with the help of know-it-all American President Woodrow Wilson), the Serbs grabbed control of the govenment and army and haven't let go yet...

    It's hard to come back from the Balkans and not sound like a Pete Seeger song. Even those of us who are savagely opposed to pacifism are tempted to grab the Yugoslavs by their fashionably padded shoulders and give them nonviolent what-for: "Even if you win, you ASSHOLES, all you've got is YUGOSLAVIA ! It's not like you're invading France or something."

    (For promoting nationalism) ....War doesn't work anymore. Rape and slaughter may get Serbia on the evening news, but, from the point of view of becoming major players upon the international stage, Serbs would be better off selling Yugos."
  • Yes, but while Croats and Serbs may speak to each other they may not write to each other (serbs use cyrillic alphabet and croats use the latin). So yes, you're right, but I didn't feel /. was the place to get very technical about it.
  • These cultures have not "been killing each other for centuries" -- the ethnic cleansing conducted by Serbian nationlists first in Bosnia and now in Kosovo is the product of a deliberate and callous fabrication of history as a means of attainting and maintaining political power.

    ?? ... and the Croats (ustachi) were slaughtering the serbs - whole villages of them - during WW2, and before that, etc. etc. Yes, they do hate each other, and yes they do have a long history of killing each other.

  • At least that's my opinion. These people have been killing each other for centuries (since the original Ottoman invasion).

    The only thing that has even kept peace in the Balkans has been occupation, plain and simple. The Ottomans kept an iron-fisted peace, as did the Austrians after them, albeit a bit more gently. Probably the US occupying the Balkans would be a bad idea; and as soon as our military presence disappears, they will go back to slaughtering each other.

    The real problem is that these cultures simply hate each other. They are the same ethnicity; most people do not realize this. The bosnians, serbs and croats are all the same people, separated by culture - religeon, language ...

    The way to fix this is not with bombs, but with televisions. We need to put a TV in every Balkan home and pipe in M-TV. This will eradicate their cultures, religeon and everything else along with it, turn their populations in drooling, babbling idiots, and hence fix the problem. Talk about techno-war. Hmphhh!



  • No matter which way you view it, fighting itself is the ultimate proof of idiocy.

    From the texts of Sun Tze and Baltasar Gracian we know that the _BEST_ way to defeat your opponent is to make them defeat themselves.

    Ah, well.... Clinton is not famous for his wits anyway, so what else can we expect from that "Cigar Man", eh?
  • IANAL. In a nutshell, treason can be defined as providing aid or comfort to the enemy. In this particular case, If you are a citizen of one of the belligerents (a NATO member or Yugoslavia), and you compromise or attempt to compromise your country's or its allies' ability to wage the war, then that could be considered aiding or comforting the enemy. OTOH, if you conduct your IW attack against the enemy, and if you are not a member of your country's armed forces, then under the Geneva Conventions, the enemy can consider you to be a criminal and try you under their laws (assuming they can get their hands on you).
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • The real problem is not a technological one. It is a case of the politicians using the wrong tool for the job. The refugees are being run out of the country by ground troops using small arms and face-to-face confrontations. Using a multi-million dollar fighter/bomber flying at 20,000 ft and at hundreds of miles an hour is not the appropriate way to stop the guy on the ground with a pistol in his hand; only sending in ground troops will do that.

    The politicians want to "do something" and not get hurt. It is much easier to blow up empty buildings with jets and expect no casualties than sending in ground troops to die. Air power should only be used to prepare the way for ground troops, not as an end unto itself.

    I don't think this situation can be halted unless the country is occupied by foreign forces on a permanent basis and police state is created. Since I don't support that, I don't think we should be doing a half-ass job by bombing them because the politicians wanted to "do something".
  • I believe this is a much better analysis and quality of writing than the above attempt by Katz:

    War's own peculiar logic [worldnetdaily.com]
  • by KlomDark (6370) on Friday April 02, 1999 @09:28AM (#1951882) Homepage Journal
    I have seen nothing from the US during my life except these "beat up the little guy and tell him what to do" skirmishes my whole life. No longer do we fight honorable wars like WWII - where we actually had a reason to fight (and even give our lives) to protect ourselves. Instead we behave like the mean kid on the block chasing little kids around with an electric cattle prod stolen from daddy. And laughing because they can't do anything to us. I don't like it. I don't like this whole NATO/Big Brother thing either. Read this for more info [bloomnet.com] (The SmallBrain "mammals" will say it is anti-government. LargeBrained people will realize that it is pro-constitution)

    I'm sure I'll get power-flamed for a lot of this. I love my country, but I fear my government. I'm just not really understanding the need for all these wimp-wars of the last 20 years. Why don't we just live our lives. If someone wants to be stupid enough to come mess with the US, then we can wallop them, but until then we should just be nice. This is more like walking around saying "I bet you can't kick MY ass!" - That's all fun until someone comes along that CAN. Every large empire (which is pretty much what the US has become) has behaved the same way. Now there is no Greek, Roman, English, empires. Someone finally kicked the arrogance out of them. We need to use our magic for good, not evil.

    That is all I've got to say about that for now.
  • This is pretty durn obvious. No fighting force has ever been defeated by any "wonder weapon". (Japan in WW2, you ask? Look at the campaigns that led up to the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki.) If a group or nation has the will to fight, nothing except troops on the mud will defeat them.

    One historical example come to mind: WW1: In what was probably the greatest demonstration of skill-at-arms ever, Sgt. Alvin York [worldwar1.com], US Army, captured an entire German machinegun battalion. He did this alone, armed with a five-shot rifle and a seven-shot pistol.

    At the time, the machinegun was the "ultimate weapon". It commanded the terrain for 500 yards, killing all in its path. The machinegun was the primary reason that WW1 was reduced to "trench warfare"--everyone was scared of 'em!

    Today's "wonder weapons" are no different. A smart bomb still isn't smart enough to kill one rifleman. And it's the still the rifleman that carries the day.

  • "14 - They have made instruments not backed by gold or silver legal tender for the payment of debts, and illegally allowed the Federal Reserve, a privately owned corporation, to control the money and credit system of the country without being properly owned or controlled by the People."

    Okay, so some of it is a little wacky, Klom. You've got to admit that it would be a little tough to run our economy on a gold standard. Besides, gold's objective value is nearly as much an illusion as that of paper.

    As for the Federal Reserve, I don't know if I'd go so far as to say they are a #private# bank...more like an independent one--albeit a perhaps-too-powerful-one. I do wish Greenspan worried less about inflation and more about jobs.

    As for the "it's pro-constitution" part, what's so great about the constitution? It's a 200-year-old document primarily obsessed with preventing us from crowning a king in the George III style. I'm not sure why the militia crowd (and I'm NOT throwing you in there with them) are always so fanatical about the constitution; it's almost a religious symbol to them.

    Fascintating stuff nonetheless. It's got something for everyone--a mix of Libertarian, Leftist, and even right-wing-black-helicopters-style griping about the feds. Most interesting, of course, is the stuff about corporations...Thanks for posting it.
  • On "MarketPlace" last night, Robert Reich had a very similar commentary. He delineated the two great forces at work in the world as Technology and Tribalism. And made the same point, that Tribalism almost always can overpower or outlast Technology. It's even true in our own history. The American Revolution was won by our 'tribe' despite the British having better technology.
  • Very good, but the technology is the wrong aspect to focus on - at least, in my opinion. The fact that this is a Clean War, where we attempt to win without spending anything but money (no lives), is why we will lose. Unless the nation leading the assault really wants to win, they'll lose.

    Before the bombing started, I read an interesting Zogby poll of voting americans.

    1. Do American troops belong in Kosovo? Yes, 62%.
    2. Where is Kosovo? I don't know, 34%.

    We don't, as a population, know where the nation is let alone the political details of the reasons for the coflict.

    We wanted to win in the two Great Wars, in Korea, and in the Gulf. We wanted out in Vietnam. And in Kosovo, the war has been so thoroughly cleaned that we don't know why we're there or where we are.

    We can't possibly win this. I am almost ashamed to be an American.

    Almost.

  • If something is to be done, let it be done well. We've seen this before. Khaddafi was one of the first that I can recall (then again I'm a young pup). We bombed. He shut up (some) but hey, he's still there. Reagan isn't. Saddam? Still there, because we're not willing, as a country, to accept the basic fact of any war. People die. There is no bloodless victory in war, that I can see. There can be bloodless battles, but never a true victory. Desert (Foo) had very low casualties, but they didn't suceed either, truly. We've bombed Serbia before, it's done drek. All it does is teaches those bombed where the limits are. Milosovic did a marvelous job tapdancing around NATO demands while building up. He got enough troops, and wham, over the border and thanks for playing. The Serbs obviously think that sacrificing men to the war is worth it. We don't. At this point, no technology in the world can help, if the will to victory isn't there. And is isn't, and it's not likely to be. Every time we send troops in, the opponent just has to look to Somalia or Beiruit to see examples of how to kick the Yankee Imperialist Dogs out with minimal effort.
  • Saddam Hussein has survived several Techno-Wars, emerging even stronger and more enrenched than he was before. He was pushed out of Kuwait not by a Techno-war, but by a pretty conventional one, in which troops and tanks lined up in the desert to push him back to Iraq. Change that to "troops and tanks lined up to mop up what was left of his forces after the A-10's, Apaches, and other airborne assailants were done with them" and I'll buy it.

    Unfortunately, "techno war" is something we're going to be needing more and more.

    I've only recently left the U.S. Army (I was a paratrooper/signal geek). The impression I walk away with having spent my four years either in Korea or Fort Bragg, two assignments where a solider ought to feel most confident that he's surrounded by the best the conventional military can offer, is that the will and competence for a ground war fought between conventional forces simply aren't there.

    People within the military will chase their tails about this forever, figuring out whether to blame what they consider less ability on the part of small unit leaders to discipline their troops, or too much civilian oversight, or a lower quality recruit pool.

    Whatever the reason, the last twenty years have taught the military lessons that probably ought to be more traumatic than Vietnam was. For instance:

    • Grenada: Coordination was so poor that units were cut off from each other due to the lack of a consistent frequency scheme for communications. Rangers were attacked by gunships unable to identify them as "friendly."
    • Panama: Three way firefights between poorly coordinated ground elements representing Rangers, Marines, and regular army elements.
    • Somalia: Rangers, arguably the best the Army has to offer for stand-up fights, ground up and spat out by forces considered one step above "armed hooligans."
    • Desert Storm: A "victory," but hardly because of the competency of ground forces.

    And to get merely anecdotal, numerous tales from fellow soldiers who were involved in several of the conflicts I mentioned above, including one story of a signal troop who, when faced with a possible overrun situation in Somalia, dropped the clip from his weapon and said "f*ck this, I can't."

    I don't think we have the will to fight on the ground, and haven't for some time. In fact, we really don't have the will to fight at all.

    It's absurd, while we're on this, to claim that these "techno wars" are "bloodless" anyhow. Everyone but the United States has been willing to admit that the "collateral damage" to the Iraqi infrastructure caused horrible devastation, privation, and loss of life among noncombatants. Unfortunately, the prevailing political climate in the United States has rendered discussion of such things nearly treasonous. Why? Because a thoughtful person realizes that discussion about this issue requires admission of some things:

    • We've probably been lied to by the people we're "supposed" to trust at some point along the way, and have most likely identified and asserted as "truth" some of the lies we've been told

    • We don't possess the means to figure that out for ourselves nearly as easily as we can merely aquiesce and go along with what we're being told, and...

    • We're well aware that regardless of our own ability to somehow tease the truth out of a "news" apparatus more concerned with profit and repsectability, there's little chance we can count on our neighbors to be the same way.

    Knowledge, in this case, is a losing proposition. Asserting your perception of the truth invites the derision and abuse of anointed experts who have a stake in making sure we all remain content with our perception. Admitting that you've been systematically deceived requires character.

    In a lot of ways, the other front in a techno war is the civilian population on whose behalf the war is being fought. The enemy has to be mastered on the plane of force, and the home front has to be bombed into submission epistemologically.

    Lots of luck to all of us.


    ----------
    mphall@cstone.nospam.net

  • It's important to make a point about public support with regard to the so-called techno-war. In World War II, it was pretty easy to convince the American public that going to war in Europe was in the national best interest. The allies had smart leaders, smart politicians and luckily, both sides of the conflict agreed to fight a conventional war. (That is until the Japanese became involved.) We viewed WWII as both a mission of humanitarianism, and of reigning in a dictator bent on "world domination." This is something that the "public" was able to grasp and support.

    The war in Korea was the same in that it remained conventional, the war effort had public support (more support than WWII at least at first) and the US goals in Korea were straightforward. The media as we know it today was taking its first baby-steps in war coverage and was able to feed the pentagon what it needed to keep support back home.

    Vietnam was the first time that the US was missing the key ingredients for a successful war. Very little public support (at any time during the conflict and less so towards the end, of course.) We had military leaders on our side who, while knowledgeable in conventional war, couldn't keep up with the VC because the VC didn't play by the rules of conventional warfare. Our politicians back home were missing the last key ingredient...salesmanship. They could not sell the war to the American People because what we were fighting for was lost in translation (or was never clear to the US in the first place) and every day on National TV we could see our sons dying in the rice paddies.

    With the event of the Gulf War, the leaders in Washington tried to learn from the mistakes of Vietnam and instead of trying to teach us why it was important to stop Saddam Hussein, told us that "We don't need public opinion to start fighting, because we can show the American People that US lives are not at stake." The new weapons capabilities, the bright flashing lights and pretty colors on our TV's convinced the People of that.

    But we again suffered from a lack of clear objectives (beyond the liberation of Kuwait and protection of our allies in the region.)

    In the balkans, we've got almost the same problems as we did in Vietnam and in the Gulf war. The public doesn't understand the humanitarian conflict (and hasn't been told if this is reason enough to war against the Serbs.) It doesn't know where the conflict is taking place, and the leaders in Washington and Nato can't tell us what are objectives are. It's not like the US and Nato gets involved every time one ethnic group tries to wipe out another one. Just look at Rawanda, the only reason that we don't look pathetic as a result of that conflict was that the American people didn't see the bodies of dead Rawandans on national TV every night.

    Nato and the US have relied on the the Air/Techno war as the first action to take in conflict. They almost seem to say "We don't know what we're up against, how long we can expect to fight, or for what outcome we're fighting. But its important to get the ball rolling, (or bomb dropping) just so we appear to be in control."

    I wish that it was easier for US citizens to get real information on the conflict before we start dropping bombs on people. Of course that's fanciful thinking... it's way easier to turn on the TV and let someone else tell us what to think.

    ---
    ps. I like Jon Katz.
  • "dazzling new technologies, many of them digital"


    So what if its digital. Analog works fine, too. In some cases, analog is even better than digital, and its usually cheaper.


    For instance, active noise cancellation was achived during World War II using analog electronics and worked quite well. In fact, it was so simple, people refused to belive it would work. Today, active noise cancellation can be done digitally, but it requires A/D conveters, D/A converters, and either a complex controlling circut or a microcontroller (plenty complex, too). But since analog is simpler and works just fine . . .


    Digital stuffs are just tools to solve a problem. Use them where they work well. Do NOT insist digital stuff be used everywhere because digital stuffs are not inherently better at all tasks.

  • Much of what JonKatz says is true. Particularly that you cannot overthrow a government by air strikes alone.

    One thing is questionable, the reference to elements of this conflict going back hundreds of years. It's true that the Serbs and Albanians have lived in the space for hundreds of years, but the conflicts are largely modern. 19th and early 20th century saw a few problems, but more recently things were quiet (remember that Kosovo had constitional autonomy).

    My main criticism is that this was mostly a sociology of war piece, and not a terribly good one because he kept trying to work technology into it.
  • by schporto (20516) on Friday April 02, 1999 @09:40AM (#1951963) Homepage
    I would strongly suggest reading 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu. Especially the part about "Fire Attacks". It has been claimed that in every war the winning side used the principles set in that text. Corralaries can be drawn to today's technologies and (my understanding of it is that) Fire Attacks generally corrolate most closely to air wars. They could further likened to the techno wars that are spoken of here. A key point that Sun Tzu makes is that if you do not know your enemies limits than you will not be able to win the war. In the case of Kosovo I don't think the US quite understands what the Serbs are willing to do and why they are willing to do it.
    Here's a link to the "Art of War" [mit.edu]. There are others out there if you search for them.
  • From reading initial comments, it seems as if people are getting a little bit more out of this than the average Katz piece. That's good. However, I'm not getting more out of it, because I gave up after the second time I saw a number embedded in the middle of a paragraph.

    A public plea to Mr. Katz: You're posting hypertext here. You should take advantage of the things this medium lets you do, like make automagically numbered lists (<ol type="1">), and embed links into your text (for example, why wasn't the book title from ISU Press linked to Amazon.com, or ISU press? Why isn't your email address at the bottom of the article a link?)

    Please try to understand: For myself and many others, your facility with this medium has a direct and substantial impact on your credibility. This is directly analogous to how people react to a poorly editted essay in Old Media.

    I understand that you're quite busy with family and career, and that picking up HTML might not be a priority. I understand, and I'd like to offer my services. Send me a draft of your forthcoming posts, and I'll mark it up. No charge. I think you've got some interesting things to say, but I (and others) aren't getting to see them, because you're doing the New Media equivalent of printing first drafts on low quality paper, with cheap ink, in a cruddy font, with no copy-editting.

    john.

  • I disagree, Milosovic is nothing if not rational. Here's the equation:

    Choice 1: Give up Kosovo peacefully, the only alternative the U.S. will accept.

    Choice 2: Fight, and maybe keep Kosovo, or at least part of it, and even if you lose you kill some ethnic Albanians and gain the support of your people who even if they do not particularly like you, like being bombed even less.

    Now, keeping in mind that Kosovo happens to contain some sites that are as holy to Serbs as the Alamo is to Texans (and for the same reasons) what do you, as a rational leader, do?

    You fight. It's a no-lose proposition.

    There was an excellent article on the BBC news site before the bombing started that spelled out what was going to happen, and so far it has been 100% right.

    Don't take this post as an endorsement in any way of the Serbian atrocities, but over the last 100 years, all sides in Yugoslavia have been guilty of the same things. Definitely not worth my bombing money.

  • Comparing Saddam Hussein to the VietCong and the Afghan resistance movement is rather insulting, at least to the Afghans and the VC. Katz has lumped a third-rate military leader who happens to have nine lives, a brilliant political mind, and one hell of a PR machine together with the masters of modern guerilla warfare. The only basis for comparison between either of these guerilla fighters and Saddam is that all of them go into hiding when the missles start flying. It's just that the VC and the Afghans tend to come out shooting...

    We defeated (I don't know if that's quite the right word to use, since "defeated" nations don't tend to come back posing and posturing about how they're going to kick your ass if you come back) Iraq in ground combat without any trouble, and with very few casualties. We did not have the same luck with the Germans, and I don't think anyone wants to get involved with Vietnam again. Heck, ask the Russians how they like dealing with Afghanistan, and see how it stacks up to anyone's experience in Iraq.

    The article is an interesting read, but as soon as JK starts trying to make historical or cultural analogies, he starts sounding like an idiot. My advice: stick to what you know!

  • Milosovic is completely rational, he is just using a differedt value system than we do. In his terms the peace terms ammounted to "commit sucide or we will kill you". If he accepts he will be out of power, and possibly dead, very quickly. If he rejects the peace offer his army will be attacked, damaged, but probably not destroyed. By being openly against NATO he is out from under a number of restrictions and can possibly emirge much better off. Given this kind of decision table it is a no brainer. The fact his country gets trashed in the process is acceptable overhead.

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberrys!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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