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Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Sun, 19 Jan 2003 16:13:03 +0100 (CET)


On Sun, 19 Jan 2003, Owen Byrne wrote:

> Where are the opponents to be found on this modern "battlefield?" I'm
> sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, when only one nation has an armed

I'm not sorry at all that the days of Cold War are over. We wouldn't be 
having this conversation had things taken a slightly different course 
during the Cuba crisis. Both of us would be most likely lacking the 
crucial property of existance, and this medium wouldn't exist.

> forces, the future of warfare is what you saw on your telivision on
> Sept. 11 - because nobody is capable of standing up to the US armed

I didn't. I got the news in realtime over email, and then switched on the
radio.

> forces. The more money you spend on gee-whiz weaponry the greater it
> will be so, the more the other side will look to shoe bombs,
> hijacking, ricin, and 'hit 'em where they aint.' And the only way to

As long as you're not seeing an advent of a new power axis, yes.

> fight that, as the British learned against the IRA, is hurt yourself -
> reduce civil rights, increase surveillance, and even then, you'll
> probably end up making peace in the end.

We're not talking warfare here anymore. We're talking terrorism. Warfare
is something different.

> The main trend in modern warfare in the 20th centrury is that it has 
> changed from waging war against another army
> to waging war against civilians. Up to and including WWI, you were safer 
> in any war to be a civilian than a soldier. From WW II on,
> the safest place to be during war is in the army. The safest place (for 
> Iraqis) during and after Gulf War 1 was the Republican Guard (and Gulf War
> 2 is likely to be even moreso.

I havent's seen the numbers, but you just can't sell a war which involves
megadeaths, whether armed forces, or civilians. Not these days. Unless we
should see a new power axis emerging, heavensforbid. Then questions of PR
tend to become rather secondary.
 
> And a lot of the technology, frankly, is often just gee-whiz stuff to 
> amuse the US Army planners that don't have any opponents
> to actually plan a war against. In the heat of battle, so called "smart" 
> weapons are in the hands of human beings who are weak, fallible
> and stupid - they make mistakes - ask the "friendly fire" pilots. Tanks 

Yes, current technology is really pathetic. And, as you say, it is still 
under control of humans, whether direct or indirect.

It is interesting to see when this is going to change, and when smart 
hardware will harken to nonhuman agenda. 

> are built with all sorts of sighting gear that will allow them to hit
> targets out to 3000 or more meters, but the vast majority of the time, 
> the ranges will be only 500 m - similar to tank battles during

Think smart platform which will cluster-nuke your from orbit with very
little warning. Or a landscape saturated with smart mobile boxes designed
for one thing: kill you, as soon as you're within range. Claymores are not 
very efficient, I think toxin needles and biologicals would be cleaner.

> WWII. And artillery (which has hardly changed at all, though I'm sure 
> someone will correct me) is still going to generate the most
> casualties on the other side.

The artillery has changed, given tactical nuke shelling capability. 
Luckily, this hasn't seen any use, so far.

> Lets see - Gulf War 1 killed possibly as few as1500 Iraqi soldiers, and 
> the sanctions killed 227,000 children from malnutrition.
>  Thats the picture of modern warfare.

The modern warfare is very much in flux. It's hard to see where things are 
heading, but some of the projected capabilities give me the willies. Are 
you sure this is where your taxes should go?