Archive for the ‘Global’ Category
“If there’s one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting women from violence.”
So tweeted Valerie Jarret in the same hour that Leon Panetta made the announcement that the Pentagon would allow women to serve in combat. I’m with Jarret. Here’s my supporting statement:
“My fervent prayer for future warfare: all fighting will be done by a few 18-year-old male geeks in really cool machines far, far away from the planet earth.”
(Kind of like BattleBots–best sport ever. Look it up.)
Yes, the 20th Century fell a bit short in terms of protecting women from violence, didn’t it? All that strategic bombing. All that total war. From crossbow to hydrogen bomb the history of warfare since Napoleon’s rise has been one of greater and greater “inclusion”–including the “equal-opportunity” citizens of Warsaw, London, Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo or Hiroshima. The relatively recent development of smart bombs, precision-guided munitions, laser technologies seemed to offer the beginning of a technical end-run from the massive slaughter of civilians. Okay, nothing in war is pleasant, but it’s an improvement over say, the bombing and use of napalm on North Vietnam that occurred in my lifetime. Somehow, the US military and the Admin seems bound and determined to quarantine that progress, to neglect the value of that trend. Perhaps because it will never work perfectly; there will be human shields, there will be munition factories staffed by pregnant women, there will be awful bumps in the road.
But stay the course: the US must consistently signal that it is against “inclusion” in warfare–that it really is taboo, as a species, to indiscriminately kill women, children and the aged, that we genuinely want to shrink the target set, that don’t endorse doomsday strategies. One critical way to do that is to continue the trend of making US combat troops increasingly professional and yes, increasingly rare.
Although Nat Hentoff is an atheist and a leftist, he took a pro-life position in the abortion debate. His main exhibit was a thought experiment: imagine a woman being bayoneted; imagine a pregnant woman being bayoneted; notice the emotional and moral distinction between the two images. I submit that moral picture applies to war as well.
No top-down policy can erase, or wish away, our species-wide instinct to protect those who give life–or our inability to forgive those who hurt them. For it is those sorts of atrocities–pregnant women, young mothers and children being killed in Belgium for example–that gave birth to the Western trenches of World War I, and ultimately, to strategic bombing, to the age of genocide that we have just passed through.
Stimulated by the politically galvanizing effect of the tragic Newtown shooting, I suspect that there are more than a few in the Administration who harbor secret fantasies, who never want a serious crisis to go to waste; at the expense of a few female atrocities, the US engaging in warfare will become simply too painful. War itself will become impossible.
You might ask: Is it really possible that members of the Administration want to use my niece in combat so they can shed crocodile tears over her body-bag in some perverse political photo-op? Well, yes. And if that’s the motivation, even if it’s a subconsciousness one, it’s a deeply immoral impulse. I mean, why not enlist my nine-year-old or my aging dad in combat too–just like the defense of Berlin? But even if such a plan–to make warfare taboo through the use of limited female sacrifice–is justified by a conscious, chilly, utilitarian calculation of long-term morality and the greater good, as long as an enemy lives and breathes, the calculation is flawed by its essential ignorance. Following the Great War, Douhet’s Theory of strategic bombing–which most intelligent people subscribed to at the time–premised exactly the same idea. After the first bombs were dropped on urban centers, the common people in horror and revulsion would rise up and force their leaders to sue for peace. How did that work out in London in 1940? Or, for that matter, in Berlin? History shows, quite conclusively, that we are not just an aggressive species. Once war begins, we are a deeply vengeful one.
There may be many noble motives at work within the Administration and the highest level of the Pentagon. I don’t preclude that. But their naive assumptions have proliferated to the point of irrationality. Women in combat is a Pandora’s Box which contains the potential to usher in a second age of total war.
…I’m posting this scathing piece that I worked on with high-level North Korean defector Kim Kwang Jin. Written earlier this year, it’s a serious economic analysis with a very grim prognosis for the future of North Korea. Not for the casual browser.
In this shaky, unsustainable age of free content and bargain-rate kindle, it is understandable that National Review would want to keep my review of Tim Johnson’s new book behind the paywall. Fair enough. Lord knows, I can relate. But David Kilgour informs me that he is putting it up for free on his website tonight. So go to David’s website and look around, lots of interesting stuff there. Alternately, since the barn door is open, you can read my take on the book here.
“All movements—even pocket-protector ones—have their legends and their origin myths, often set in an older, simpler place and time, as is this one. But although he never won a Nobel Prize, the man who died was real. And in 2002, when China experts in the West universally judged that his cause was a failure, he commanded the most successful Falun Gong action ever undertaken on Chinese soil—the hijacking of a massive city’s television signals for nearly an hour. Pulled off by a small gang with minimal experience or resources, the operation was strikingly uncharacteristic of Falun Gong at the time, but from it would grow far more sophisticated challenges to Chinese Communist party control over information in the years to come. Television hubs would become Internet routers, guerrillas would be replaced by geeks, infocops and robbers would go virtual, and the brawl would spill out from China into Atlanta, Tehran, and the State Department. But it all started in the city of Changchun with a man named Liang Zhenxing.”
Read it here. Over 5000 words, so get comfy.
BIG UPDATE: “Into Thin Airwaves” is being transformed into a graphic novel by one of the most talented artists ever to come out of China: Daxiong! Raised in Changchun, Daxiong actually logged some hours in the same prison cells as Liang and his gang.
Go here for the occasional update on Daxiong’s progress.
Yahoo’s lawyers informed me that there was a security breach in my account just over a month ago. I’m flattered.
The Weekly Standard, February 1st, 2010:
OK, it should have happened a decade ago and it’s awfully late in the day. But by openly anchoring their opposition to censorship to PROFIT, not just human rights, Google is not only rebuking the Cisco-Yahoo-Nortel paradigm of seeking revenues from the Chinese government’s demand for censorship and surveillance technologies–they have turned it on its head.
Full-throated, no kidding, loud and clear now: All hail Google!!! Put my book on the web, sell my surfing scores to advertisers, whatever…I won’t forget this moment.
Anyone reading through this blog will know that I’m not a scientist. OK, I am literate and not an easy pushover for rigid ideological frameworks, but what could I possibly add to a scientific debate? Yet my little layman observations have been gnawing at me for some time now. And while I have been a genuine agnostic about the man-made global warming theory, I find myself becoming increasingly skeptical and dismissive. Two reasons. First, because global temperatures haven’t really risen for a decade (although I readily admit that could just be a blip in the long-term data). Secondly, because the credibility of so many advocates of the theory feels well, shaky. And that’s what this nobody-asked-me-but post is all about.