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Doctor Strangelove

By dscottj in Op-Ed
Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 06:58:09 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

In spite of recent history and current perceptions, modern weaponry, epitomized by the gun and the nuclear weapon, are in fact ultimately agents of stability and peace.


Before the invention of workable firearms, around the fourteenth or fifteenth century (depending on who you ask, and your definition of "workable"), the technology of war had actually changed very little in more than five thousand years. Swords, bows, shields, horses, catapults, and fortresses were as familiar to the Babylonians as they were to the Hospitalier knights five thousand years later. Because everyone made and used the same weapons, war ended up being more about how badly you wanted to win. Tremendous instability was the natural result.

No sooner would a group of people finally manage to get it together with running water and toilets than a group of nomads would come sweeping out of the steppes of Asia and wreck it all. This happened time and time again throughout history. The nomads would win because surviving on the steppes of Asia made you one mean, tough sonofabitch. You had to already own your own horse, sword, and bow, and be damned good with them, otherwise you'd starve, and of course the people you were looking to give an ass-whupping to weren't any better equipped than you were.

Hundreds, sometimes thousands of years of cultural effort would inevitably end up padding the ass of some hairy goatherd who'd managed to convince his buddies a holiday sweeping through Europe and the Middle East would be a lot more fun than drinking fermented horse milk. And the people left behind would have to start all over again with less than nothing, because the nomads would've made damned sure anyone who even looked smarter than they were, i.e. all the elders and anyone who knew how anything worked, would have their heads used as polo balls on the way home. Progress smashed and forgotten is no progress at all.

The invention of the firearm changed this equation in a hurry. Unlike swords and bows, you don't have to practice all day, every day, to be good with a gun. This made it easier, faster, and cheaper to form an effective fighting force. Cannons are only loaded with cannonballs when you want to knock down a building. Fill the same cannon with chain, glass, and rocks and you have one helluva lawnmower at your disposal. As the saying goes, bringing a knife to a gunfight is usually not the way to get what you want.

It wasn't just that having a gun made it harder for a nomad to separate your head from your shoulders. A gun isn't that much more complicated than a sword, especially if you already know how they're made. But it took a lot of infrastructure to make a lot of guns in a hurry. You've got to have forges, mills, chemical factories, and the kind of people that know how to run them, to do it. None of that stuff is anything you can pack on a horse, and so the balance swung in the favor of cities and civilizations capable of maintaining these things. Getting those capabilities changed you into one of the civilized peoples, and suddenly it was a lot more fun to make money and war was something that would only break your hard-won stuff.

Of course the civilized world found it had traded one kind of instability for another. The requirements of modern weaponry caused an unprecedented amount of power to be coalesced into the hands of just a few people. Nations flow from guns as cities flow from plows. A knight can afford to make his own swords, but only a king can get enough cash to make a cannon.

It was all too easy for an individual, or a few individuals, to use this power to try and take over the world. As firearms became more effective by orders of magnitude, especially after the industrial revolution, the world would be a much more dangerous place every time some maniac managed to claw his way to the top of one of these nations.

The way you win wars is you kill people and break stuff until the other guy can't fight any more. But industrialization made it possible to build stuff faster and faster. Each leap in technology meant it took fewer and fewer people to actually fight the war. As a defender, you had the problem of simply not being able to kill enough people and break enough stuff fast enough to make these maniacs think twice about rolling into your country with tanks. It was a risk they always felt they could take.

Enter the nuclear weapon. What is not widely known is thermonuclear devices (hydrogen bombs) have basically unlimited destructive power. Once you learn how to make one, it's almost as easy to come up with a planet buster as it is to come up with a city buster.

Now not only can you wipe out the factories that drive the maniac's war machine, you can wipe out the city that contains it with a single weapon. Mount a few dozen on missiles and you have the capability of destroying an entire country and there's nothing the other guy can do to stop you. All the tanks in the world won't do your fevered dreams of world conquest any good if the decadent, soft, patronizing peoples you are out to bring order and justice to can wipe you, your army, and your nation off the face of the earth in a matter of seconds.

Of course, now instead of maniac nomads trying to get guns we have maniac national leaders trying to get H-bombs. On the face of it, we've traded the sort of instability that wipes out nations for the sort of instability that wipes out the planet. Not much of a trade. But, as with firearms, there are some natural brakes that keep Armageddon from happening.

Building an H-bomb is hard. It's not something you can figure out just by going to a library. Nations that already know how to make them keep the secret very well. And the kind of government that puts a maniac in charge and keeps him there is not the kind of government that fosters the scientists and engineers you need to figure it out on your own. You need independent minds to do physics and engineering, and people that have independent thoughts are to dictators what guns are to drunk rednecks.

And even if you can find people greedy, vain, or shortsighted enough to tell you how to do it, it's still really f'ing hard to put the thing together. Entire industries have to be created. Big factories have to be built. Exotic materials have to be acquired. None of this can be done with any secrecy in an era of spy satellites, and the civilized world has proven itself willing and able to use any means necessary to stop their development once they are aware of it.

More importantly, as with guns before them, getting the stuff together to actually build these bombs has an annoying tendency to turn you into the kind of society that won't use them. Countries are made up of people. All these factories give people jobs, and jobs give them money, and money wants to be spent. Enough stuff is acquired that now the entire people have something to lose. From there it's just a short hop to revolution and democracy. And modern democracies don't start wars.

It's still dangerous, very dangerous. There are something like thirty thousand nuclear bombs in the US and Russian arsenals, so a maniac has an alarmingly good chance of just buying a pre-built bomb and sailing it up someone's harbor. But the development of these technologies and these devices, long thought to represent the worst of humanity's most evil intentions, will ultimately prove to be one of its saving graces.

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Doctor Strangelove | 218 comments (200 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting thesis. (4.44 / 9) (#3)
by graal on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:02:36 AM EST

That a society with the scientific, industrial and economic prowess to build a nuclear weapon will necessarily develop itself to a point of moral inability to use it.
More importantly, as with guns before them, getting the stuff together to actually build these bombs has an annoying tendency to turn you into the kind of society that won't use them.
Except that we did use them. Twice. And furthermore, I'm not so sure that it's as hard to build a nuclear bomb as you portray. It might be hard to design a good one, but even a crappy one that sort of works is all a nation needs to alter the power balance in a particular region.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

History seems to prove (3.50 / 2) (#4)
by dscottj on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:06:17 AM EST

That they really are pretty darned hard to build. At least by the kinds of governments that would be likely to use them at any rate.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Obtaining fissile material is hard. (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by graal on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:13:31 AM EST

As is enriching spent nuclear fuel. I'm not sure that the rest of it is.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

Two types of A-Bomb (4.60 / 5) (#8)
by wiredog on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:17:14 AM EST

The Little Boy type of enriched uranium bomb is simple to design and build. So simple that the design was never tested before it was used. But the U238 (IIRC, may be 239) is hard to get. It runs approx 1 part in 240 in natural uranium, and has to be separated out atom by atom through mechanical means.

The Fat Man type of plutonium bomb is difficult to design and build (you need a perfectly spherical imploding shockwave) and is what was tested at Trinity. The Pu, however, can be separated from spent reactor fuel rods by chemical means, so is easy to get. If you have a reactor. Iraq used to have a reactor (at Osirak), but the Israelis bombed it about 20 years ago.

Two types. One is simple to design and build, but with difficult to get ingredients. the other is hard to design and build, but it is easy to get the ingredients.

And there are many nations that either have nukes, or could any time they wanted.

Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
[ Parent ]

U235 (4.66 / 9) (#13)
by Herring on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:39:35 AM EST

Naturally occuring uranium is mostly 238. To separate it, you need to do something like turn it into a gas (uranium hexaflouride) and rely on the fact that the lighter (235) isotope diffuses faster. Of course, to speed up this process you could .... WHO ARE YOU! GET OUT OF HERE! I'VE DONE NOTH...


Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
[ Parent ]
Pu is hard (4.00 / 2) (#82)
by pmc on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 10:09:04 PM EST

Pu metallurgy is exceptionally difficult. It is (IIRC) one of the most complex metals known, and there are no "Pu Metallury for dummies" books about either - the only way to learn is to do it, and Pu is very toxic (especially when you are machining it). This is a natural disincentive for a Pu bomb.

[ Parent ]
History indeed! (4.87 / 8) (#15)
by krek on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:47:52 AM EST

You seem to have selective recall when it comes to history.

At one point in history, bows were hard to build, you had to find the right type, thickness, and durabilty of wood in addition to stalking, killing, gutting, and harvesting the proper fibers from the proper animals for the string. To make the arrows you would again need to find the right type of wood, but you would also have to find and shape the proper type of rock into the proper shape of an arrow head, and in the begining they probably did not even have fletching.

In the begining swords were impossible to construct, but eventually they discovered how to forge metal, but it still took an incredible amount of skill to forge an effective sword, one that would not shatter upon impact against even the softest of leather armour.

So your point is that nuclear devices are hard, even near impossible, to build. I say that that is only the current state of affairs. We only discovered nuclear weapons, what, fifty, sixty years ago. How long do you think it took before bows or swords were widespread? Before the average joe knew enough to create his own? I would say that it was probably longer than fifty or sixty years.

You say that nuclear weapons and firearms have brought stability and peace to the world. At best it is a fleeting stability, one that will shatter once nuclear devices can be easily created. In reality, I am thinking that the peace that you claim has risen in response to the stabilising effect of firearms and nuclear weapons is ephemeral, not real, a figment of your imagination, all in your head. You think that all is peace and stability because you happen to enjoy the fruits of the instability that these things have caused. Do not mistake the moment of hesitation before the pendulum changes direction for an eternal peace, you will be sorely disappointed.

[ Parent ]
Slightly OT example: damascus steel (4.00 / 3) (#23)
by graal on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 11:48:02 AM EST

The "recipe" for damascus steel was a closely guarded secret. Apparently, we still don't know exactly how some of these swords were made.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

I had read a while ago (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by krek on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 12:02:32 PM EST

That they had rediscovered the process of forging damascus steel.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I saw the same article... (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by graal on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 12:06:29 PM EST

...right after I posted. D'oh.

In any case, my point was that in the Middle Ages, the method for making these blades was as closely guarded as any munition secret today.

...mmmm....damascus steel Leatherman....

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

Right (none / 0) (#94)
by mindstrm on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 12:28:14 PM EST

But how much of an advantage did that damascus steel provide?

In the day and age, probably more than it would today (damascus is mostly ornamental today)

[ Parent ]

Gadget - Nicolas Freeling (5.00 / 2) (#67)
by jet_silver on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 07:22:10 PM EST

Gadget was written in the late 'sixties / early 'seventies, and it convincingly demonstrates the ability to build an atom bomb is within the means of, say, Warren Buffett. A few tens of millions of dollars for the space, the secrecy, the "removal" of the makers once the device is built.

As long as you can get the nuclear material. Which is the hard part as long as a bunch of it hasn't ended up on the black market. If it has, bet that workable nukes are in the hands of a few rich guys on every continent.


"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling
[ Parent ]

I never thought of that (none / 0) (#116)
by Subtillus on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 10:42:39 PM EST

It's kind of funny to think that there are entities other than governmental militaries who could posess such destructive power.

Bill gates? Micheal Eisner?

[ Parent ]

H-Bombs are hard. A-Bombs less so. (3.75 / 4) (#30)
by Genady on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 12:27:06 PM EST

True, Hydrogen bombs (Fusion Bombs) are more difficult to produce. Atom Bombs (Fission Bombs) are easier. Of course A-Bomb's nominal yields are in the what 10's of Kilotons, not in the Megaton range of H-Bombs.

--
Turtles all the way down.
[ Parent ]
context (2.28 / 7) (#12)
by parasite on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:30:43 AM EST


Indeed they were used... but in this CONTEXT, use means use in a war of conquest. What conquest ? Doesn't look Japan is the 51st state to me.

You are a sorry confused little man, the difference between a war of self-defense and a war of conquest is as different as the moral stature of a rapist vs his innocent victim.

[ Parent ]

Stupid Leftist Comments (1.40 / 10) (#18)
by z1 on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 11:14:01 AM EST

Might makes right and pacificist apologism is just the latte of cowardice.
The culmination of Human history is me.
[ Parent ]
Not the 51st state (3.33 / 3) (#20)
by JahToasted on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 11:16:34 AM EST

But Japan is very much capitalist. Conquest today isn't about expanding your realm or gaining subjects its about selling big macs, dvds and coca cola.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Indeed. (3.33 / 3) (#22)
by graal on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 11:26:46 AM EST

But don't take my word for it.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

Wrong,,, (4.00 / 5) (#50)
by pattern against user on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 06:38:43 AM EST


Considering that America wrote the Japanese constitution...what definition of "conquered" do you need? I am of course not arguing that the conquest was aggressive (rather than in self-defense) or harshly imperial, but it is still a conquest, be it a benevolent, necessary and liberal one.

Anyway, in modern economically globalised times nobody "conquers" anyone else anymore. Instead they steal or borrow resources and capital. Ever wonder who America owes it's massive debt to?

America did not want to invade the main Japanese islands to avoid casualties amongst it's troops (even though for every American casualty there were 10 Japanese). But it did not want to wait and let the Red Army invade Japan either (By this stage Japan was no longer a threat). So 2 swift nuclear strikes were the perfect solution.

Also, a commonly held point of view is that if Truman had simple made it clearer that Emperor Hirohito would be preserved, the Japanese would have surrendered before Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

[ Parent ]

Eh, this post is so silly. (3.40 / 5) (#41)
by Work on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 12:57:30 AM EST

First of all, when the weapons against hiroshima and nagasaki were used, the public has no knowledge of them. The Manhatten project was one of the most secretive projects ever undertaken.

Secondly, the effects of such weapons were largely unknown, even amongst those that designed and built them. Oh sure, there were some ideas as to what would happen, but it wasnt until they were actually used against a population that the horrific effects (and the lingering after ones) were known. By this of course, I mean things like radiation poisoning, the possiblity of 'nuclear winter' and so on. The kind of things that separate nuclear weapons from conventional ones.

[ Parent ]

Inept thesis you mean (none / 0) (#191)
by liberte on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 09:38:19 AM EST

That a society with the scientific, industrial and economic prowess to build a nuclear weapon will necessarily develop itself to a point of moral inability to use it.
You mean, like Pakistan's society ? Having the money and technology to build a nuke does not imply the country develops.

Biographie
[ Parent ]
You can't fight in here, this is the war room [nt] (4.63 / 11) (#5)
by 5pectre on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:13:12 AM EST



"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

We must not have a mineshaft gap! [nt] (4.20 / 5) (#9)
by wiredog on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:19:53 AM EST



Earth first! We can strip mine the rest later.
[ Parent ]
What the heck are you people talking about? <nt (none / 0) (#124)
by carbon on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 12:23:25 AM EST



Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
have you not seen Dr. Strangelove? [nt] (none / 0) (#146)
by 5pectre on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 12:37:23 PM EST



"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

[ Parent ]
"They'll see the big board!" (nt) (4.00 / 4) (#14)
by graal on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:42:43 AM EST


--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

And don't forget: (4.25 / 4) (#28)
by greyrat on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 12:15:57 PM EST

  1. .45 automatic.
  2. boxes of ammunition.
  3. days' concentrated emergency rations.
  4. drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills.
  5. miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible.
  6. dollars in rubles.
  7. dollars in gold.
  8. packs of chewing gum.
  9. issue of prophylactics.
  10. lipsticks.
  11. pairs of nylon stockings...
A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff!

~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
Strangelove. What kind of a name is that? (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by DrStrngeluv on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 08:25:31 PM EST

That ain't no kraut name, is it, Stainsy?

[ Parent ]
Don't forget Cpl. Bat Guano... (none / 0) (#79)
by graal on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:24:54 PM EST

...if that is his real name.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

But what's happened, you see... (none / 0) (#86)
by baldnik on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 12:11:38 AM EST

is the string in my leg's gone.

[ Parent ]
Unless someone builds the universe destroyer... (2.66 / 3) (#7)
by llogiq on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:14:57 AM EST

Then every nation that possesses H-bombs will think twice, eh?

Think about it, the key to winning this arms race is fear. If your enemy fears you more than you fear the enemy, it is likely that he will not attack.

On the other hand, the next kind of war will not be fought with weapons of mass destruction. The fear instilled by nameless murder and terrorism is even worse than the fear of a H-bomb attack. The fear that not that everything will blow up, just you. When will the USA learn that and install terrorist cells in Iraq? ;)

Fear (3.85 / 7) (#11)
by krek on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:27:44 AM EST

You promote using fear to control people, and, for a while, it will work, in fact, it will work very well. But, eventually, at some point, you will slip, your gaurd will be let down, and those you had been controling with fear will not miss the chance to remove such a fearsome and repressive force from their lives. In this way, when you use fear as a method of control, you bind yourself to it, so much so that you will be forced, over time, to weild it with ever more force lest you lose control. Eventually, those living under the oppression of fear will come to the conclusion that they have nothing to lose, and nothing can stop everybody.

My name is William Blake. Have you read my poetry?

It's like Machevilli said (none / 0) (#106)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 06:17:49 PM EST

There is no defense against a man who is willing to trade his own life for yours. The Prince (or imperialist nation) needs to be feared but not hated.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
He also said (1.00 / 1) (#119)
by Subtillus on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 10:56:08 PM EST

"The"
"is"
and
"It"

I think we can all learn something from this.

[ Parent ]

What about chemical and biological weapons? (4.33 / 6) (#17)
by clark9000 on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 11:06:23 AM EST

They require knowledgeable scientists to make them, but once you have the processes, the manufacturing is incredibly cheap, fast, and easily hidden. Entire industries do not have to be created, exotic materials often do not have to be acquired, big factories often do not have to be built.

The former Soviet Union is incredibly poor. Meanwhile, the scientists who worked on Biopreparat, the Soviet biological weapons program, are still just as smart as they were, still have the same knowledge they did before. And they need to feed their families. Meanwhile, most dictators are incredibly wealthy.

Do the math.

It's not inconceivable that the biological equivalent of a nuclear bomb could shortly find its way into the "wrong" hands.
_____
Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.

-- E. Dickinson
The BC's of NBC (4.50 / 4) (#73)
by libertine on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 08:24:25 PM EST

Nuclear-Biological-Chemical weapons are defined by the US military as a single category due to one similarity in their environmental effects- they make it very difficult to either move through or station troop within certain places.

The destructiveness of nuclear weapons that is feared by cities (one bomb+one city=poof) is not the same power feared by the military (fallout as a limitation on mobility).  This is why most seasoned military staff do not consider their use.

Fortunately, biological weapons do not offer much threat to entire cities.  You would have to carpet bomb an entire city with bio-agents before it would have the same effect as one nuke.  Most bio -agents, even enhanced ones, have to be deployed under very specific circumstances and in large quantities in order to be effective against a populace.  Their prescribed military usage is for smaller areas in order to make those areas undesirable for passage by enemy ground forces.  

Bio-weapons, even (no - especially) enhanced ones, do not offer any safety to the side using them.  Effective field-ready bio-agents can be more difficult to develop and transport than nukes, delivery systems must be customized, and bio-agent contaminants are almost impossible to remove from an environment.  The fallout factor is what contains their use and limits development by militaries.  Their difficulty to develop and deploy over large areas prevents their effective usage against foreign civilian targets by smaller nations.

Chemical weapons require an even greater payload to disperse, and though they have a shorter environmental lifespan, they still render areas difficult to pass, and can be made dangerous by changing winds and rain run-off.  These agents can be made on the cheap, with industrial chemical components available on the open market, but the AMOUNT of stuff that you have to move from one place to the next in order to use them in the field puts them in the category of explosive ordinance.  This means that conventional means of dispersion must be used, which kind of defeats the purpose of having nearby troops move through those hot zones.  It also means carpet bombing or some similar method of dispersal.  The presence of the weapon agents and their components are easy to detect with kits.  Moreover, chemical weapons are easy to defend against- most MOPP suits will outlast an attack with chemical weapons, and it is easy to set up facilities out of existing material to enable soldiers to change suits.  


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

Biological weapons, (4.00 / 1) (#121)
by Subtillus on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 11:18:09 PM EST

I don't claim to know enough Organic chemistry to know anything about chemical warfare, but as for biological...

The only problems faced, (dispersion, immunization, get the f'ck out before it goes off-ization) have not been faced with any degree of ingenuity to the best of my knowledge. I'm confident I could do half of these provided a few readily available materials.

How to kill a hefty chunk of a population:
1)oldies tricks
-use foot and mouth or some similar pathogenic agent to kill off a large portion of a countries live stockthis requires a few dozen people to drive around to farms for a few weeks.
Fun ensues.
-A round of small pox delivered into public transportation systems by an immunized individual would knock out anyone who wasn't immunized.

2)Go basic, take something which forms a spore (anthrax would be a good example) and get it into some ventilation systems. Or get it into a subway system. Or

3) Be creative, mix and match, a virus can be "instructed" to pick up just about any set of genes, given proper size... so, why not transduce something like Clostridium botulinum's botulotoxin? I'm sure it could be done. Put it into an adeno virus and stir it into some cold food preparing plants processes, not all of them are gamma irradiated. or put it into the water supply in massive quantities.
Or, better yet, transform an E. coli with botulo-toxin then put it into a city's water supply.
feasible and devastating, accomplishable with undergraduate knowlege of molecular biology.

Maybe my ideas are sophmoric and I haven't done my bio-weapons homework but I'm pretty sure it's not that hard. I'm pretty sure anyone who really wants to can figure out enough to make some pretty mean stuff in a moderately funded lab.

[ Parent ]

I thought it wasn't that hard either... (none / 0) (#184)
by libertine on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 07:12:29 PM EST

until my fiancee with the BioChem/OrgChem degree corrected me.  You see, it is possible (in the sense of anything is possible- probable is another story), but most of the materials require special yeast mixtures (not stuff like brewers yeast) and special vats (because brewers vats aren't tight enough), and on, and on, and on.  There are issues of sterility, contamination, and cross-contamination which also must be addressed or a- the people in the lab die, or b- it doesn't work at all.  Detection for the above is another issue, and I have yet to hear of a lab that has not had SOME sort of exposure event.  Given what I just mentioned, you also need to realize that what very few detection kits exist (anthrax being one), won't really work except when you and all your co-workers have been exposed.  This is just for the non-modified stuff.  There are additional protocols when working with anything modified (and we aren't talking infectious agents here), even if it is considered harmless in the lab.  If you need a better idea on how infectious agents are handled, you might want to try the FDA and CDC websites in order to look up what the MINIMUM guidelines are for the stuff that isn't restricted.  Its pretty hefty, and to create even a small *secret*, you are talking hundreds of millions of dollars.    

Non-modified bugs have strict limitations when it comes to deployment and usefulness.  Anthrax isn't very useful in open spaces.  In fact, most bugs aren't.  When you get into stuff like small pox, yeah, it can wipe segments of a population, but it will wipe out the perpetrator's population too.  That, and smallpox doesn't really kill that many people.  It can debilitate a large portion of a population, but that is about it.  The more deadly communicable stuff, like plague and hemmorragic fever, actually burn through their infected populations faster than they can spread.  A two to four week curfew and they are gone.

As for modifying bugs, well, see what I said about the unmodified bugs.  The lab people fabricating this stuff have to survive long enough to spread it, and if you are talking modified bugs, then they will be dead before they get that chance.  Safe delivery is also an issue, and reality fiction writers like Stephen Bury take great liberties when coming up with these methods.  There is no "safe" dispersal method.  Deadly bugs aside, something as safe as E Coli gets everywhere in labs when people are working on it under "proper" conditions.  When it gets down to brass tacks, its damned near impossible to make bio-weapons without the same kind of specialized staffing and development space that would be suitable for making a fusion bomb.  Except that radiation is easier to detect :)



"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

Yeah, sounds good (none / 0) (#187)
by Subtillus on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 08:43:39 PM EST

Except while your fiancee has a degree in bio-organic chemistry, dealing with polymers, nucleics and synthesis (generally speaking); I'm in my junior (second to last) year in an honours program in Microbiology and immunology (which also covers virology).

In response to how hard it is to get the bugs, it's merely a matter of going to the hospital and collecting a sputum sample while wearing a lab coat to get some T.b. It's merely a matter of knowing where to get these things int he wild and purifying them, this is a sophmoric excercise and you may refer to an microbiology entry level lab manual on how to do it.

In response to my killing myself in the process the simple answer is ASCEPTIC technique, you do the work right, the work does right by you. Always work near an open flame, always sterilize the heck out of everthing etc... it's a training issue. Only dangerous when handled by incompetants.

Non modified bugs? I geuss smallpox was a bad example but if I didn't have an examn on wednesday morning I'd look up something better. It's all about where and how these things are deployed too. Coliforms in a water supply might not do much (due to chlorination) but coliforms in a cafeteria will give a few hundred people food poisoning.

As for specialized staff, only if you want to unload the stuff from missiles and aerosol rockets. A bio terrorist would be more clever than that. It's not abotu mass-destruction it's all about mass hysteria and minor destruction.

As for immunizations, if YOU are desigining the vector then YOU can design it using an immunizble pathogen. IE: give the virus a recognizable protein coating but have it produce deadly gene products, some sort of endotoxins in an polio-derivative casing.

I'm being forced to memorize information now so I can't give you a more creative answer than that. point is, It's possible and easy for a clever person with proper funding. Problem is bio equipment is VERY expensive.
Maybe some other time.


[ Parent ]

Arms Race (4.10 / 10) (#21)
by JahToasted on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 11:24:11 AM EST

I'm sure when they first started using bronze they looked at the barbarians that only had stone the same way that you are looking at nations that don't have nukes. It's funny that people firmly believe that they are somehow different from the people in the history books, that they won't make the same mistakes.

Compare Rome vs. Germania, Britain vs. American Rebels, US vs. Vietnam, Soviet Union vs. Afghanistan, US vs. Iraq. Oh but this time it'll be different cuz of the tech, right?
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison

But you see, we are (4.00 / 3) (#25)
by dscottj on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 11:57:59 AM EST

We are fundamentally different than any pre-industrial cultures (all industrial societies are), and therefore any comparison with them is invalid.

U.S. v. Vietnam and USSR v. Afghanistan are also invalid to this argument. The former was a nation wading into a civil war, while the latter was an attempt to protect a regieme from civil war.

You're missing the thrust of the argument. The development of guns signaled the end of barbarian invasions as a source of global instability. The development of nuclear weapons signaled the end of industrialized warfare as a source of global instability. I will try to update the conclusion to reflect this.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

"invalid" (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by khallow on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 12:36:41 PM EST

U.S. v. Vietnam and USSR v. Afghanistan are also invalid to this argument. The former was a nation wading into a civil war, while the latter was an attempt to protect a regieme from civil war.

If we always ignore counterexamples to our arguments, then we can never be wrong.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Heh (2.00 / 3) (#34)
by dscottj on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 12:43:07 PM EST

I did not ignore them. I answered them. :)

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Or... did you? (n/t) (none / 0) (#179)
by Trencher on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:10:59 PM EST




"Arguing online is like the Special Olympics. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're still a retard." RWR
[ Parent ]
hmm... (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by SympathyInChaos on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:45:42 PM EST

The development of guns signaled the end of barbarian invasions as a source of global instability.

Once could make the argument that a bunch of nomads and a terrorist cell holed up in mountain have several things in common. Global instability as a result of their actions being just one of them.
It's just a thought.

[ Parent ]
I don't think your conclusion follows (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by peace on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 11:27:42 AM EST

I have no idea how you can make the claim that nuclear weapons have ended industrialized warefare. The post WWII, post Nuclear Age world has been as steadily violent as the pre Nuclear Age world. People have rattled off the wars that have and are taking place around the globe and you dismiss them. The term "warefare" may be out of fasion but the actions are not. Instead contries "retaliat", "pre-empivly strike" or initiate "peace keeping missions" or "police actions" or "clandestined opperations" or "genocides". Any of these terms sound familiar? These are the words for warefare in our modern times.

Perfection of industrialization and the mechanisms of statehood are what have brought us to where we are today, not the invention of guns and nuclear weapons. The Axis lost a conventional war, we have not had a nuclear war and the reason is that there is no safe way to have one. What the rest of the world fears is not the USA's arsinal of nukes but it's vast array of conventional weapons and it's willingness to use them at the drop of a hat.

On your first point, as has been pointed out, there were many things that contributed to the long lasting stability of the state inspite of the "barbarian hordes". Their have been empires throughout history that have endured hundreds of years without the technical edge afforded by firearms.

You can not neatly boil down all of the progress of humanity to gunpowder and atoms and say, "This is what changed everything".

Kind regards

[ Parent ]

when was the last all out war. (none / 0) (#173)
by mpalczew on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 04:25:18 PM EST

When was the last all out where one country had an atomic weapon.  WWII right when they were invented. There hasn't been an all out war between any nuclear powers, ever.  How many all out wars were fought before WWII between powerfull nations?    
-- Death to all Fanatics!
[ Parent ]
Selective amnesia (3.66 / 3) (#64)
by KilljoyAZ on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 06:36:43 PM EST

For every example of an ill equipped fighting force upsetting a major world power in combat, there are far more examples of a major world power crushing the ill equipped fighting force without batting an eye. Rome, Britain, the US in Vietnam and the USSR all failed for different reasons, none of which are analagous to the current situation.

I'm not saying that a potential attack in Iraq couldn't end in a disaster, but remembering history poorly is almost as bad as ignoring it all together.

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]

Every war is unique (none / 0) (#83)
by annenk38 on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 10:23:14 PM EST

Political climate, terrain and weapons are unique to each conflict. Advances in weapon technology have always offered an upper hand to those in its possesion -- if only temporarily. Prolonged conflicts tend to even out the odds of winning or losing on all sides. And is wasn't really "US vs Vietnam" or "SU vs Vietnam" -- both of these particular conflicts were the theatres of the "cold" war between the US and the SU.

And if my left hand causes me to stumble as well -- what do I cut it off with? -- Harry, Prince of Wales (The Blackadder)
[ Parent ]
Vietnam and Afghanistan (5.00 / 1) (#84)
by tjb on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 10:36:20 PM EST

Vietnam and AFghanistan don't count.  External pressure played a greater role in those conflicts than the men doing the fighting.  If the US or USSR wanted to, they could've completely wiped out the opposition.  

In the US/Vietnam case, for example, after the Tet Offensive the Viet Cong was nearly wiped out and the NVA was still recoiling from their massive defeats suffered over the previous few years (from ~66-68, the NVA was massacred by carpet bombing every time they tried to cross into the south) .  In a total-war scenario, the obvious action at this point would be to counter-strike hard and fast - hit the irrigation systems and starve the people, launch massive airstrikes on cities in the north, and invade both from the South and via massive amphibious landings similar to Inchon.  The NVA would've been helpless.  And the US could've done these things, were it not for the fear of drawing China or the USSR (or both) into the war (although I think that fear was unfounded).  

In Afghanistan, the Soviets were never willing to commit their top units to the conflict.  While some Spetznaz and helicopter attacks were involved, the massive tank divisions (effectively the Soviet 'big-stick', similar to how the B-52 squadrons are the 'big-stick' of the US military) remained in Europe.  Had 25000 Soviet tanks been deployed to Afghanistan, no amount of US aid and stinger missiles would've made a difference - the muhajadein would've been slaughtered - you can't fight large numbers of tanks without large numbers of tanks (or anti-tank aircraft), infantry just doesn't cut it against those kind of numbers.

Tim

[ Parent ]

Completely wrong (4.90 / 11) (#35)
by Demiurge on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:14:30 PM EST

[quote]Before the invention of workable firearms, around the fourteenth or fifteenth century (depending on who you ask, and your definition of "workable"), the technology of war had actually changed very little in more than five thousand years[/quote]

The martial technology used by the Egyptians was nothing compared to that of the Romans, which was nothing compared to that of the Byzantines, which was nothing compared to that of the late Middle Ages.  While there's a huge difference between an M-16 and a longbow, the discovery of gunpowder was an evolution, not a revolution.  It changed the face of warface, but so had iron forging, horses, stirrups which allowed for mounted cavalry, the long bow, etc.

Incorrect (3.00 / 4) (#57)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 10:37:36 AM EST

Gunpowder represented a fundamental REVOLUTION in weaponsmaking technology. For the first time in history, the projection of power was achieved via chemical instead of muscle power.

All these earlier innovations were mostly in material and tactics, both of which were easily duplicated (or defeated) by barbarian nomads and/or a knight with a grudge. They gave advantages, but only temporary ones while everyone else figured out/stole the secrets involved in making them.

Gun technology's fundamental revolution gave societies which mastered it a permanent advantage over societies which did not. Unlike any other previous technology, gun tech could not be co-opted by the tribes on the steppe. This effectively eliminated nomadic herdsmen as a source of continental instability, as they had been for the previous five to ten thousand years.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Evolution vs revolution (4.25 / 4) (#143)
by yanisa on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 11:14:09 AM EST

I think the real revolution came with the invention of the crossbow. It allowed ordinary peasants to kill at a distance - without spending years learning to do it, like they would have to do it with a bow or a longbow.

Gunpowder simply transformed crossbows into muskets, but the principle remained - you could now compose your armed force out of drafted peasants and still have a good chance of winning or defending.

Yan

I think this line's mostly filler
[ Parent ]

Incorrect (5.00 / 2) (#58)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 10:46:06 AM EST

Gunpowder represented a fundamental REVOLUTION in weaponsmaking technology. For the first time in history, the projection of power was achieved via chemical instead of muscle power.

All these earlier innovations were mostly in material and tactics, both of which were easily duplicated (or defeated) by barbarian nomads and/or a knight with a grudge. They gave advantages, but only temporary ones while everyone else figured out/stole the secrets involved in making them.

Gun technology's fundamental revolution gave societies which mastered it a permanent advantage over societies which did not. Unlike any other previous technology, gun tech could not be co-opted by the tribes on the steppe. This effectively eliminated nomadic herdsmen as a source of continental instability, as they had been for the previous five to ten thousand years.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

A rather slow revolution (4.50 / 2) (#95)
by wumpus on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 12:34:36 PM EST

The stirrup, longbow, and pike all represented fundamental REVOLUTION in weapons. They also did this quite faster. Read _Guns_Germs_and_Steel_ by Jared Diamond. The development of the gun was slow and relatively unimportant for a rather long time (cannon was used at Agincourt, a battle remembered for Welsh longbowman). The "barbarian" tribes advantages where mobility and the ability to mass at targets of their choice. Note that the Vikings achieved this as well via longboats instead of horses.
gun tech could not be co-opted by the tribes on the steppe.
At the risk of being to US centric, I suggest you may be interested in hearing about the Apache indians. It seems that the US Army required 10 crack soldiers for every Apache brave. Hint they had guns... and the Army had soldiers, lots of soldiers. The "tribes of the steppe" were defeated by supplying sufficient soldiers to catch and defeat a mobile force, regardless of what weapons technolgy was available (the Viking era ended long before guns were dominant). This was more a function of population density (and non-agrarian labor) than anything else. Scott

[ Parent ]
And yet they still lost (3.33 / 3) (#97)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 12:48:31 PM EST

Again, once more, with feeling... guntech revolutionized warfare in that it replaced muscle power with chemical power. Stirrups allowed muscle power to be effective on the back of a horse. Evolutionary. Longbows allowed muscle power to be multiplied and projected over great distances. Evolutionary. Pikes allowed muscle power to be massed. Evolutionary. All are muscle-powered. Guns are not. Revolutionary.

Also pointed out in the essay, it's not just that guntech was more destructive. It wasn't, at least at first. It's that it allowed you to field very effective fighting forces with comparatively little training.

It may have required 10 crack soldiers to kill an apache, but we could train replacement soldiers in a matter of months, whereas apache braves took more than a decade to create. It doesn't matter how specacularly effective 10 apache braves are, because the US didn't just field the 1000 soldiers required to kill them. It fielded 10,000.

Again, as noted in the essay, guntech made creating sufficient soldiers to catch and defeat a mobile force so easy said mobile force was rendered ineffective and obsolete.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

you missed the point (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by martingale on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 01:23:21 AM EST

wumpus gave you an example where two guntoting sides went against each other. Both the US cavalry and the Apache indians used guns. The Apaches were ten times more adept, apparently. What really made the difference were the relative sizes of the populations. Because there were a lot more American settlers than Apaches, they had to win in the end.

You're right in principle that guns versus spears make a huge difference, but once they entered the battlefield, both sides were able to take advantage of them practically immediately. Moreover, a civilization which mass produces guns needs to sell them, whence they inevitably fall into their enemies' hands and the advantage is quickly canceled.

[ Parent ]

Technology is an enabler (2.00 / 1) (#36)
by HidingMyName on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:17:08 PM EST

However, it can let people do destructive things (as you noted). As technology improves it is possible for people to abuse it and be destructive (ala September 11). Since destruction is easier than containment/fixing things, technology exposes us all to a greater risk. Fortunately, the rewards tend to offset most of that risk. However, technology does not guarantee education (although high tech ability does imply a good education level), or moral correctness.

Low tech (none / 0) (#114)
by Nelziq on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 10:28:02 PM EST

As technology improves it is possible for people to abuse it and be destructive (ala September 11).

As i recall, the sept11 hijackers used boxcutters. Hardly what i call high technology.

[ Parent ]

Funny but I thought it was Planes I saw Crash (none / 0) (#198)
by HidingMyName on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 05:44:44 PM EST

And not a couple of guys running up to the WTC with box cutters. Seriously, sure the boxcutters were used to control the human's on the planes but the technology of the commercial jet liners was what enabled that mechanism of attack (coupled with human controls that got subverted by the attackers).

[ Parent ]
fallacious complacency (4.66 / 12) (#38)
by martingale on Thu Oct 10, 2002 at 10:59:59 PM EST

It's a seductive thought, that countries with the means to develop advanced weaponry are incapable of being aggressive. Pity it's totally wrong.

The USSR developed a huge arsenal, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, within in a centralized, totalitarian system.

Perhaps a better example though is the following: Just before WWII, Germany had arguably the most advanced military weaponry in the world, together with a sophisticated and modern general staff. The Blitzkrieg was a marvel in execution and extremely successful. Even during the middle of WWII, German scientists and engineers were able to invent sophisticated weaponry. Luckily, US factories were out of reach of German bombing campaigns. Otherwise America would have been much more hard pressed than it was and Hiroshima might never have been possible.

The German lesson is that when democracies turn due to popular apathy, you can obtain a rogue state with a maniacal leader who has all the advanced weaponry, scientists and force projection he needs for his maniacal ends.

Now let me ask an obvious question. Is modern America similar to what it was in the forties/fifties and, this is for the Americans among us, what are you doing about it?

Hey (none / 0) (#93)
by mindstrm on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 12:13:26 PM EST

What does the USSR have to do with being aggressive?


[ Parent ]
Nazi Germany wasn't apathetic, quite the opposite (3.00 / 1) (#104)
by RyoCokey on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 05:11:07 PM EST

It was a very strong nationalist movement. Your argument and analogy are completely wrong.



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
political apathy of course (5.00 / 1) (#128)
by martingale on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 03:03:12 AM EST

Most Germans were apathetic when communists were arrested. Most Germans were apathetic when socialists were arrested. Most Germans were apathetic when Hitler introduced secret "People's Court" trials for treason. Most Germans were apathetic when concentration camps were set up. Most Germans were apathetic when the Gestapo secret police was set up. When finally, after most of a decade of this, the Jews were seriously rounded up, there was no one left who was really vocal against it.

[ Parent ]
You are learning the wrong lesson. (3.00 / 1) (#147)
by Captain Appalled on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 12:40:47 PM EST

I think the German lesson would best be summed up as "desperate people will do desperate things, even in a democracy."

Please read the excerpts from 1930-1933 (The Rise of Adolf Hitler); you'll find that while the Nazi Party eventually became the most powerful party in the Weimar Republic, Hitler was never voted in as President or Chancellor, but got to power via political intrigue.

Once chancellor, he became dictator within 2 months. I don't think it reasonable to blame apathy for not dissenting in a dictatorship. Ask the people of the Ukraine.



[ Parent ]
I am an American (3.66 / 6) (#133)
by circletimessquare on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 07:11:42 AM EST

The German lesson is that when democracies turn due to popular apathy, you can obtain a rogue state with a maniacal leader who has all the advanced weaponry, scientists and force projection he needs for his maniacal ends.

Now let me ask an obvious question. Is modern America similar to what it was in the forties/fifties and, this is for the Americans among us, what are you doing about it?


Is your observation about the American political and social climate growing more distrustful, radical, and dangerous to the rest of the world a sound observation?

Yes.

As an American, what am I going to do about it?

Support Bush in the War against Iraq with a clear, unapathetic conscience.

I will of course explain.

We can both agree that America would be nowhere near attacking Iraq if it were not for September 11th. Not so? Then let me further explain:

Bush could harbor considerable Imperialistic designs on Iraq for personal ("He wanted to kill my dad"), oil-related, or just plain megalomanical reasons. Adjust to your personal paranoia levels.

But regardless, there would be no willpower behind Bush attacking Iraq within the American public or the Congress/ Senate without September 11th occurring. Despite propaganda to the contrary, America is still a sound democracy and the willpower of people besides Generalisimo Bush does matter in this country. Your personal paranoia levels on that point be damned.

So, since we are in agreement now about the importance of September 11th to our whole discussion, I can make the following statement: American intentions/ interests are not the source of underlying instability in the world today, the rise of Islamic Militant Fundamentalism is.

Wrap up American intentions on Iraq in any flavor of disapproval/ satsifaction you desire, you can not dispute that America would be nowhere near attacking Iraq were it not for that singular event. Are there other forces at work here? Of course there are. Forces which paint America as a hero, and forces which paint America as a villain. But the scales are clearly tipped in one direction because of the seminal event of September 11th.

And if you choose to cynically dismiss September 11th as just another example of terrorism in history, and not a major force of history, then you will still be hardpressed to dismiss American horror and resolve to do something about September 11th as not a major force in history. Chew on that if you will.

So, while we discuss a dangerous America on the brink of war, I think you owe it to your conscience, or at least to your sense of logic, to trace the source of instability in the world to its real source.

As I write this missive/ angry diatribe, the death toll in Bali due to terrorist bombing probably linked to Al Qaeda or some other form of Islamic Militant Fundamentalism is growing close to 200 dead.

Combined with continued, decades-long violence in India/ Pakistan (lovely Nuclear powers) and Israel/ Palestine, then you are talking about the real flashpoints of war and instablility in the world.

So when American blood is spilt in Iraq to force a regime change from a dictator whose comparisons to Nazi Germany are MUCH more apt... and a more peacful Iraqi democracy backed with American money is propped up and nurtured in the model of successful, peacful, and prosperous Islamic democracies like Turkey... then let me ask YOU an obvious question.

Are the do-nothing protestors in the modern West similar to the do-nothing powers that let Hitler take the Sudetenland without a whimper in protest in the twenties/thirties and, this is for the "lets all hold hands and sing campfire songs" noninterventionists among is, what are you DOING ABOUT IT?

Or, I should rephrase, do nothing about.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about when I mention the Sudetenland and the lesson it had about World War II, then I have an old, tired quote for you: "Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it."

So you go on sir, and howl about every American resolve to do SOMETHING about the real sources of instability in the world. Go ahead and organize, and protest, and agitate. You go on with your bad self.

And you go on and remember whose blood is being spilt so you can continue practicing these freedoms to organize and protest and agitate that you so cherish. And you remember what those who drive airplanes into buildings think of people like you and what they would like to do with your cherished freedoms. And you reflect on how inaction about Islamic Militant Fundamentalism is a sure fire way to let it just go on and on and on.

Take a look at Afghanistan today versus Afghanistan two years ago. You think about the Americans who died to secure that regime change. And you tell me about the "German lesson" about Democracies ONE MORE TIME.

Go ahead. Go ahead and laugh even. There are plenty more who read these simple words of mine and know where the resolve to act comes from, and know what a fool you look like because you don't recognize it.

You go on with your bad, smug, cynical self. Grow some faith in a clear conscience to do positive action for change in the world, and lose your anxiety over doing ANYTHING to force positive change in the world. Your mental noise over your Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about positive, conscious, well-meaning American action in Iraq is at the best counterproductive and at the worst downright dangerous. Do-nothing types like yourself wish to perpetuate the status quo in the world, and the status quo is clearly dangerous. Do-nothing types offer no alternatives that reduce the dangers of the world we live in that would act in the time frame to adequately stop the next September 11th, or worse. Recognize the real challenges in the world today, and it is not good old stupid Generalisimo Bush, it is Islamic Militant Fundamentalism and the Madmen who would give them Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
But there are some holes in your arguments... (4.00 / 1) (#167)
by bint on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 01:31:00 PM EST

So, since we are in agreement now about the importance of September 11th to our whole discussion, I can make the following statement: American intentions/ interests are not the source of underlying instability in the world today, the rise of Islamic Militant Fundamentalism is.

Possibly. But US intervention in the middle east (Israel, Saudi Arabia) is helping the IMF (sic!) to get support for its actions. Isn't throwing the US out of Saudi Arabia Osama's main goal? Of course poverty and totalirian regimes in the region do play a major role, but US policy doesn't really help. Unilateraly attacking Iraq would only increase the support for the radical islamists. Eventhough Iraq is more of a traditional dictatorship than an islamic state.

...and a more peacful Iraqi democracy backed with American money is propped up and nurtured in the model of successful, peacful, and prosperous Islamic democracies like Turkey...

Turkey changed due to internal pressure to a secular state, fighting a hard to keep from becoming islamic. And the kurdish people and cyprus might disagree with your loving description of it. Better than Iraq, but how hard is that to beat? If you want to learn from history check what happened to the US' backed Shah. The new rule in Afghanistan you mention is still young, far from stable and it has broad international support.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about when I mention the Sudetenland and the lesson it had about World War II, then I have an old, tired quote for you: "Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it."

But at the moment Iraq isn't on the brink on invading any country (and asking for permission to do so), so the analogy falls. I can understand if this qoute is tired when it doesn't get the right kind of exercise.

Your mental noise over your Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about positive, conscious, well-meaning American action in Iraq is at the best counterproductive and at the worst downright dangerous.

Are you serious? "positive, concious, well-meaning" actions? Why shouldn't I Doubt the positive results over an unprovoked (at least unproven) provocation invasion of a country in the most inflamable regions of the world? Because you think it's counterproductive or dangerous? Looks like you're the one spreading FUD.

The options aren't just a) bomb Bagdad or b) invite Saddam to a pool party. Diplomatic means, sanctions and inspections might not kill Saddam, but he is not the top boss you can kill at the end of the level to top the hiscore table. If you can't even convince your western allies of the advantages of an "preemptive" attack, how do you think people in arab/islamic countries will react? Might it not trigger more terrorism?

[ Parent ]

"positive, concious, well-meaning" actio (none / 0) (#176)
by circletimessquare on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:06:00 PM EST

we quibble about some minor points on supporting the shah, turkey not being a rosey country, etc... my main point is that democracy is the only acceptable government for a country to take. any other forms of government, by nature of their inability to truly channel the will of the people they serve, will not only fail, but breed suffering and revolt during their stumble... and islamic militant fundamentalism is a good example of this. but regardless, that discussion is tangential.

our main difference is your understanding of what i mean by "positive, concious, well-meaning" actions.

i mean removing saddam hussein from power for the good of the world. end of story. simple as that. anything short of that is accepting the status quo, and the status quo is unacceptable.

too radical for you? too violent? fine, you have your FUD, i have my desire to make the world a more liveable place. you would assert that islamic militant fundamentalism would be further riled up by such an american action. to you i say you are correct, this is a possibility. but how does this compare to the status quo? islamic militant fundamentalism is ALREADY on the rise. this is not acceptable. not from an ethnocentric, i hate muslims point of view. it is unacceptable from the point of view that any powerful religious fundamentalism is bad for the well-being of people anywhere, everywhere, for any reason, period. fundamentalist christians, fundamentalist muslims, fundamentalist insert-your-own-religion here is straight out BAD FOR THE WORLD.

if islamic militant fundamentalism means to get worse, it will get worse. it will get worse REGARDLESS of attacking iraq or not, do you see that? look at bali. so the world is on a nosedive to hell right now. let's ACT to right things. NOT acting is no help. of course acting carries risks! are our fears, uncertainties and doubts on acting supposed to paralyze us?

i'd rather go with the risks of action than the certain continued unacceptable status quo of inaction. it really is as simple as that.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
As I said... (none / 0) (#195)
by bint on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 01:57:22 PM EST

...in my opinion not performing an unilateral full scale invasion of Iraq does not equal "doing nothing". There are other options. If action == war then I really do need to brush up my English (well, probably should anyway ;).

Additionaly I don't believe that beating up Iraq will be a serious blow to islamic fundamentalism. Shouldn't you then bomb Iran instead? Or Syria? Yemen? All of the above?

Believe it or not, I too want a more liveable place, and dislike fundamentalism. I do agree that use of force might sometimes be necessary. However in this case there are some big uncertainties...

  • I don't really know why. I have seen no proof of Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11 (or against a lot of other people now labeled as terrorist for that matter.) or of any nearly completed WMD. Saddam is a bad man?
  • I'm not convinced all other options are exausted yet.
  • What happens afterwards? Will there be some sort of colonial rule in place? Split Iraq to give the Kurds a country of their own? Afgahni-style government? For how long? Supported by whom?


[ Parent ]
points on your points (none / 0) (#197)
by circletimessquare on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 04:57:56 PM EST

...in my opinion not performing an unilateral full scale invasion of Iraq does not equal "doing nothing". There are other options. If action == war then I really do need to brush up my English (well, probably should anyway ;).

i am not a warmonger. of course there are other actions besides war which oppose the continued existence of saddam hussein. make a list of those actions besides war that the west can perform. look at your list of options. can you find any option that really gets rid of saddam? look at cuba. look at north korea. look at all of the non-war options that are used to oppose these dictators. the point is, unfortunately, no action exists except war to expel these parasites. once a dictator is in power and instills secret police and control over the media, etcetera, then he can cement his rule quite effectively for a long, long time, and there is very little anyone can do about it.

we apparently agree that saddam must go. and your opposition to war is noble. but which is greater? your opposition to saddam hussein? or your opposition to war? one of those two must give, for there is no other way to remove him, and remove him we must.

Additionaly I don't believe that beating up Iraq will be a serious blow to islamic fundamentalism. Shouldn't you then bomb Iran instead? Or Syria? Yemen? All of the above?

connections between saddam and september 11th are tenuous. but not tenuous at all are the connections between non-democratic governments and the rise of islamic fundamentalism. the idiocies of the shah of iran led to his downfall via religious fundamentalist forces. hatred of the saudi royalty feeds al qaeda. look at the nationalities of the september 11th bombers.

the larger point is that democracy must take root in this area, and must take root faster than the normal tendencies of history that will lead the middle east to democracy will take... decades, maybe centuries. why must this be sped up? because while these places suffer under their nondemocratic governments, they breed and export islamic militant fundamentalism, to the detriment of us all all around the world.

replace these kleptocracies and corrupt theocracies with democracies, and the will of the people of these countries will be channeled into their own government, and they will have no reason to desire violent change in the world in the name of allah, because their willpower will be adequately addressed by their governments, something that is not the case now.

al qaeda is a symptom, not a cause. you can knock al qaeda down a thousand times, it will only breed itself anew and spring back up. to defeat al qaeda, you have to defeat the root causes of al qaeda. those root causes are the injust regimes of the middle east that cause the people there to suffer, that cause them to take arms against the world. they see the world as the enemy because countries like america support regimes like the monarchy of saudi arabia, in the name of oil, and did support iraq in the past in the name of the cold war. the cold war is over, and so the american attitude and the attitude of the world towards these injust regimes must change. if it doesn't change, then the world will continue to be seen as the enemy by al qaeda, and rightly so.

the middle east must be democratized for the good of us all, and forcefully democratized, because waiting for nature to take its course, perhaps over the course of decades or centuries, puts all in jeopardy for far too long a time. when the middle east is fully democratized, al qaeda will dry up like the weed it is. that is the goal of toppling men like saddam hussein and replacing him with democracy in iraq.

What happens afterwards? Will there be some sort of colonial rule in place? Split Iraq to give the Kurds a country of their own? Afgahni-style government? For how long? Supported by whom?

the shias in the south and the kurds in the north and the sunni minority in the middle that saddam represents must get along, or the country will descend into chaos. the suffering will probably increase in the short terms as the shias and the kurds exert their revenge on the sunnis and saddam's supporters. but fear of shortterm suffering should not let us lose focus on the longterm suffering that will exist should saddam stay in power. after the shortterm suffering of regime change, longterm stable democracy will ensure the happiness of the iraqi people.

afghanistan is a warlike place because it is a colonially carved-out area like a lot of other places, like iraq, made up of many varied ethnic and religious subgroups. however, afghanistan is coming back, because the people have suffered far too long and now know the only option besides democracy for them is continued chaos and brutality, at the other end of which is obscene regimes like the taliban. america now knows that suffering anywhere is suffering everywhere, for the violence in afghanistan will be exported to places like downtown manhattan if it is not defeated at its source. so america knows its obligation in afghanistan is to be a good stern midwife and keep the peace there until democracy fully gets its legs there and the people in afghanistan come to recognize that they owe their peace and prosperity to democracy, and all of the other barbaric options fade into history. so these lessons must apply to iraq as well.

sound too rosy of a scenario? put democracy in iraq and all our problems go away. agreed, it is an oversimplification. but no matter how rosy/ unrosy you would paint the process of regime change to be, whatever replaces saddam will be better than the status quo of saddam. we must not lose sight of this. have you heard of his saddams sons? i have read reports that their attitudes promise them to be worse than their dad. who do you think saddam will pass power too? will it ever end?

if we lose sight of regime change in iraq, our fear, uncertainty, and doubt over the shortterm violence will lead us to ignore the longterm benefits of getting rid of saddam. and we really must get rid of him. not so america can keep its heroin-like depency on oil more secure, but so everyone, around the world, lives in a safer place.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
clasping at straws? (none / 0) (#206)
by martingale on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 07:22:59 AM EST

What a lot of drivel. You are basically arguing that the appearance of action is more important than which action is taken.

When in a burning building, please find anything that remotely looks liquid and splash it onto the flames.

Your Islamic Fundamentalism scapegoat will not solve the world's problems. If it's war on terror you want, go look up the IRA, ETA, domestic US terrorists, Japanese Aum Cult, whatever. Poorer countries have guerilla wars and don't need terrorist tactics.

You want to forcefully US-democratize every country that looks a bit crooked? I hope you've enlisted in the US army, because it's going to need it. Forcing people doesn't work. It didn't work during colonial times, it didn't work post colonial times. Sooner or later, it comes back to bite you.

The war on terrorism is basically an international police action, and to be successful must be treated that way. Threatening all and sundry because they are terrorists, no wait they harbour terrorists, no wait they have, at a sufficiently high governmental level connections with terrorist organisations, no wait make that sympathisers, I forget what I wanted to say. But let's also get those swiss banks which got rich off the jewish persecution during WWII.

[ Parent ]

dude, your getting a conscience! (none / 0) (#208)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 12:06:06 PM EST

Your Islamic Fundamentalism scapegoat will not solve the world's problems. If it's war on terror you want, go look up the IRA, ETA, domestic US terrorists, Japanese Aum Cult, whatever. Poorer countries have guerilla wars and don't need terrorist tactics.

tell me, with a straight face and not the slightest hint of doubt that japanese aum, basque eta, timothy mcveigh, irish ira, columbian farc, sri lankan tamils, tabasco revolutionaries in mexico, sierra leone rebels, and any other two bit local rebellion, when all stacked together, can even begin to matter in the same scope as global, organized, well-financed islamic militant fundamentalism. please say that with a straight face so i can dismiss you as a crackpot not entirely in possession of his faculties.

You want to forcefully US-democratize every country that looks a bit crooked? I hope you've enlisted in the US army, because it's going to need it. Forcing people doesn't work. It didn't work during colonial times, it didn't work post colonial times. Sooner or later, it comes back to bite you.

i don't think the american people have the stomach to do forcefully democratize the world. after the horror of september 11th, i think they do have the stomach to democratize iraq. do i believe if the world were fully democratized it would be a lot more peaceful? yes. don't you? a lot of suffering in the world comes from injust governments. do you not believe that? a lot of the other problems begin to get solved when each government fully represents the will of their people, rather than the private agenda of a solitary man or a group of rich cronies. is that radical thinking? geez, where's my molotov cocktail. lol ;-P

i don't think america can rise up and democratize the world for the good of the world by any stretch of the imagination. but a fully democratized world is obviously a large part of the answer to our problems. and we will all continue to suffer until we get there, in fits and starts, as history plays itself out.

and don't say i mean to democratize every country that "looks a little bit crooked" moron. if saddam hussein is a "little bit crooked" to you, you are drowning in your own FUD. and your bit about "it didn't work in colonial times" is a nice little stinky chunk of FUD on your part, don't you think? democracy is democracy is democracy. it has NOTHING to do with colonialism! equating the two to rile up FUD about american intentions is a nice little stink cloud. but it doesn't detract from the obvious logic that DEMOCRACY WORKS. EVERYWHERE. END OF STORY. PERIOD. TYR TO CHOKE THAT SIMPLE OBVIOUS LOGIC WITH JABS ABOUT COLONIALISM ONE MORE TIME PLEASE!

the only thing that we agree on is we can't radically force the entire world to democratize. in places like iraq though, the threats are too great to continued peace and tranquility not to try. please try to balance all the pieces together now in your head and arrive at that conclusion with me. i don't think you can, but maybe you can try. lol :-P

The war on terrorism is basically an international police action, and to be successful must be treated that way. Threatening all and sundry because they are terrorists, no wait they harbour terrorists, no wait they have, at a sufficiently high governmental level connections with terrorist organisations, no wait make that sympathisers, I forget what I wanted to say. But let's also get those swiss banks which got rich off the jewish persecution during WWII.

your drowning in your own FUD my friend. you are railing about old tired issues like colonialism and wwii swiss bankers. you are railing about small issues like two-bit terrorist groups. fear, uncertainty, doubt. cynicism is a poor excuse for experience, logic, a conscience. think about the right thing to do. think about the real and large issue looming beofre you and put that in the proper perspective amongst the smaller, older issues. grow some perspective. think about action. look at iraq before you, what it is as a state, what it does to its people. look at the reasons why america wants to intervene, and what will happen to the plight of the iraqi people should we intervene. think about the upside. think about the end of suffering there should america act. and thank america for the blood that americans will spill so your peace and tranquility should be increased. and try not to rant against positive, clear-thinking ACTION with your FUD that offers no solutions, only the ability to react and cast cynical doubt. you solve the iraqi problem any other way. go ahead and try. and don't deny there is a problem. and don't deny war is the only effective means of positive change.

do i like war? no. but war has been thrust on us. it is plain as day. we are already at war! september 11th CHANGES EVERYTHING. bali last weekend. how many more balis and sept. 11ths will it take for you to recognize the real problem? how many more thousands must die because of islamic militant fundamentalism before you realize? it isn't going away my friend. i am not going to wait with you until something with a nuclear signature moves you to act. i and other clearly thinking folk are going to act now. you or your children can thank us later. i don't see you coming around to the real challenges in the world today. i see you drowning in your own FUD and cynicism. a poor excuse for a conscience. how long should the rest of us wait before you recognize the real problem facing you and the real solution to that problem? we don't have that luxury, so we will leave you behind to your do-nothing protesting (whose rights others are protecting, btw) and you are left to ponder your contribution to history. think about the sudetenland my friend. think long and hard about that lesson in history. and when you think who compares to nazi germany from that lesson, do you see the face of george bush, or do you see the face of saddam hussein? think long and hard and choose wisely, not cynically. the lessons of history and your place in it loom before you.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Points of view. (none / 0) (#171)
by Znork on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 04:02:48 PM EST

So, since we are in agreement now about the importance of September 11th to our whole discussion, I can make the following statement: American intentions/ interests are not the source of underlying instability in the world today, the rise of Islamic Militant Fundamentalism is.

But why is the rise of Islamic Militant Fundamentalism happening? People rarely get together and decide to start an uprising without a cause.

Take a look at Afghanistan today versus Afghanistan two years ago. You think about the Americans who died to secure that regime change. And you tell me about the "German lesson" about Democracies ONE MORE TIME.

And take a look at Afghanistan during the socialist government that preceded that. Which the US helped topple to replace with the various factions that were eventually replaced with the Taliban. Think about the Afghani who had to suffer first through the warlords and then the religious opressive regime _because_ of the last US intervention.

US interventions got us the Taliban. The US used to help out Saddam Hussein a lot.

What guarantee is there that these interventions wont seem like a total complete utter fuckup in ten years time? With the added bonus of pissing off even more people (who can turn into militant islamic fundamentalists) at the same time? If there was a guarantee that _this_ time it would all turn out for the better I'd jump with joy for the opportunity to kick out the Taliban and slap Saddam around 'til he gets stuck 4 feet under ground. But there is no guarantee. And the track record just aint that great.

[ Parent ]

2 fallacies (none / 0) (#180)
by circletimessquare on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:13:23 PM EST

your point of view suffers from 2 fallacies.

1. you point out american failures in the past. i concede every point you bring up. so? what have you proved? america makes mistakes? should that paralyze us into never acting at all?

2. you allude to the possibility that america will fail in the future, such as attacking iraq. thank you for pointing out the obvious. so again, should your FUD paralyze us into not acting at all?

stop being cynical and start engaging the problem at hand: the rise of islamic militant fundamentalism. that is the problem in the world today. not the past, not your fear of the future. propose a solution. don't dawdle on the fear, uncertainty, and doubt. destructing the propositions of others without proposing your own solution is at least intellectually lazy and at worst a poor excuse for a conscience.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Peculiar notions... (none / 0) (#200)
by Gooba42 on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 10:16:31 PM EST

It's really odd that you push the impending war on Iraq as a positive action and honor those soldiers who are going to die in service to their nation as though they were *defending* their homeland.

War is never positive. Speak to any veteran, war is ugly, bloody and horrible. That is the nature of it, to lessen that is to lessen the wisdom it can teach us.

Envision a meter of "goodness" if you will, war will move everyone back towards zero from wherever they are on the scale but it doesn't move anyone towards the good. Peoples' lives are destroyed who individually did nothing to deserve it. This can never be good.

I honor those who give their lives in service to their patriotism. They are giving their all to their beliefs but I'm not willing to believe that for any reason that it is better that they die than that they live.

As for those "do nothings", some of us fall into that category rightly and some of us are a "do nothing" until the facts are in and processed properly. You can't judge people who haven't made a decision yet based on fairly loose evidence.

As for the president, his actions can't really be considered as independent of his agendas. They are pretty transparent but altogether not nearly as bad for us as his inattention. While the Democrats complain about his economics, the Republicans believe it to be adequate defense that the Democrats don't have a plan to fix it. The real problem though is that the Republicans are using it as a smokescreen to cover the fact that they aren't doing anything either. These, your representatives and even your president, are the sort of do-nothings who will lay waste to the US, democracy, and if possible the world, not some tinpot dictator halfway around the world.

[ Parent ]
naivete speaks... i'll answer... (none / 0) (#202)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 02:26:04 AM EST

It's really odd that you push the impending war on Iraq as a positive action and honor those soldiers who are going to die in service to their nation as though they were *defending* their homeland.

dude, have you heard of a little thing called september 11th? we are already at war! almost 3,000 have already died! the first war with iraq was aborted since the sight of massive amounts of body bags would be unacceptable to the american people. not so after september 11th. count how many who WANT to go now. this ain't no vietnam, fool!

War is never positive. Speak to any veteran, war is ugly, bloody and horrible. That is the nature of it, to lessen that is to lessen the wisdom it can teach us.

gee thanks dad for the platitudes. let me see if this gets into your skull again:

WE ARE ALREADY AT WAR.

understand? ever hear of bali? keep snuggling up to your lovely platitudes while the next september 11th happens, and the one after that, and the one after that. war sucks! HELLO!? NO FUCKIN' SHIT?! september 11th was fun?! we are a little beyond that discussion right now my good man. war was thrust on us. we did not choose to step into it with no conscience. somebody with no conscience thrust it upon us!

As for those "do nothings", some of us fall into that category rightly and some of us are a "do nothing" until the facts are in and processed properly. You can't judge people who haven't made a decision yet based on fairly loose evidence.

do you call 2 airplanes into the world trade center LOOSE FUCKING EVIDENCE. madmen. lots of them. organized. weapons of mass destruction. do you want your fucking evidence with a nuclear signature? what will it take for you to accept as evidence?! smallpox? am i spreading fear uncertainty and doubt on the issue? or am i PRETTY MUCH DEAD RIGHT ON ABOUT THEIR INTENT? i don't know about you genius but i don't see much looseness in the evidence here.

you haven't put the pieces together yet? do you want the rest of us to line the facts up for you sweetly so you can properly digest them with a nice desert course too? awe, you're so cute. your massively overdeveloped cranium might arrive at the same conclusion the rest of us have already arrived at someday. you take your time, pilgrim, there's no rush, see? when you get there, years from now, just raise your hand and inform us of your breakthough, ok genius? we might already be over this crisis by then, thanks for your help!

the existence of madmen and weapons of mass destruction in their hands UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT is not fucking acceptable, do you understand? your children will thank us for a safer world, and you can go on with your bad, doubtful self. so noble you are. you kiss your noble, sensitive fuzzy navel for the rest of us will you? is the lint on your belly button really that lovely? awe, how cute, sniff, sniff. can i stare at it to?

or maybe you should adjust your gaze up a little away from your noble little world inside your head and look instead at REALITY. the rest of us have more pressing concerns.

your naivete is a little to pricey a luxury for us to afford right now. you inform us when you have developed a more highly developed conscience about the world, little kid. do i sound a little patronizing? perhaps. perhaps you sound a little NAIVE.

YOU ARE TOO NAIVE. ADJUST YOUR OPINIONS TO REALITY, AND NOT THE LOVELY SWEET WORLD WHICH EXISTS ONLY IN YOUR HEAD.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
very good (none / 0) (#204)
by martingale on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 06:12:09 AM EST

And for 100 extra points now, who are you at war with?

[ Parent ]
dingdingding (none / 0) (#207)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 11:22:11 AM EST

i'm at war with islamic militant fundamentalism and i'm angry as hell at do-gooders in the west who can't recognize that that should be their real cause for concern

dingdingding!

do i get my 100 points now? ;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
okay (none / 0) (#210)
by martingale on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 07:52:12 PM EST

But if you come back next week, you'll get a chance at A NEW CAR! Applause everyone, and stay tuned for these messages :-)

[ Parent ]
Loose Evidence... (none / 0) (#218)
by Gooba42 on Wed Oct 23, 2002 at 03:28:56 PM EST

For all your ranting, your point seems to come to this: We must attack Iraq because we were attacked by somebody and we don't know precisely who.

If we react without thinking it through, it'll be the death of us and possibly millions of others who had as little to do with the attack as you or I.

The fact that there hasn't been another attack on us for over a year since the initial incident suggests that we've had all this time to think it through and nothing has happened. What we have done instead of looking for evidence or properly investigating is run around screaming for blood and not caring from whence it comes.

Iraq has to the best of our knowledge had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Our top military advisors have said as much, our supposed fear is that he might use "Weapons Of Mass Destruction", meaning the anthrax and other bioweapons that we sold him. The fact that he doesn't have the equipment to deliver such a payload to American soil doesn't stop us from whining about how we really want to go to war right now, the rest of the world be damned.

It's really more naive to believe that it's right for us to run around the world bombing people who don't like us without any hard facts and without examining our own motives. If there is any reason to go to war with Iraq, 9/11/2001 wasn't it. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, fairly potent bio-weapons which the previous Reagan administration, including Bush Sr., gave/sold him in order to help everyone's favorite ex-puppet regime fight Iran.

Quit screaming about 9/11. You're calling for revenge, not justice, and you're not even taking out your revenge on the people who did it. We can't have a national "mad-on" and just run around like a toddler in a tantrum. Militarily we need to act decisively but intelligently and with legitimate reasons. We can either be the tyrants that you want us to be and be honest about it, or we can re-think and behave like responsible citizens of the world. Yes that calls for nobility and honor but I think that's really what we need anyway.

Continue to live in an honorless world if you like, but I prefer to improve it as I go.

[ Parent ]
then think! (none / 0) (#205)
by martingale on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 07:01:52 AM EST

We can both agree that America would be nowhere near attacking Iraq if it were not for September 11th.
Not so far. Especially if we are also to believe in the same breath that Iraq had it coming by flaunting UN resolutions for ten years. Which is it, the one or the other?

I agree with the first part of your explanation, though I think you are misjudging the role of 9/11. If you recall, World War I was started nominally because of an act of terrorism (no, it's not an Islamic invention). Some would call it an assassination.

Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Russia announced it would defend Serbia. Germany declared war in support of AH. France declared war on Germany. Germany invaded Belgium. Britain declared war against Germany. British colonies offered to help. The US stayed neutral until close to the end. Japan declared war on Germany to help Britain. Italy reneged on its alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary and joined the Allies.

However you want to look at the chain reaction, necessary due to a tangle of alliances or just a sequence of convenient excuses to further colonial ambitions and power plays in Europe, the war was years in the making and didn't "just" happen because of Ferdinand.

9/11 is a convenient excuse for governments world wide to institute tougher monitoring of borders and citizens. The question is whether the brinkmanship of our elected leaders will push us in too far or not.

Despite propaganda to the contrary, America is still a sound democracy and the willpower of people besides Generalisimo Bush does matter in this country.
A democracy? Yes, though one with perhaps the same number of unconcerned people as always, while the government is playing a new game. You are absolutely right that Bush alone is not fully dangerous. However, a united bipartisan system with everyone cheerfully agreeing with everyone else on everything is. Hi ho hi ho it's off to work we go!

And if you choose to cynically dismiss September 11th as just another example of terrorism in history, and not a major force of history, then you will still be hardpressed to dismiss American horror and resolve to do something about September 11th as not a major force in history. Chew on that if you will.
Worldwide, I do dismiss it as just another terrorist bombing. There was another one in Bali recently. What I'm chewing on is the terribly worrying signs that ordinary Americans are happy to let their government take advantage of their anger. What I'm worrying is that all the history we learn is useless.

So, while we discuss a dangerous America on the brink of war, I think you owe it to your conscience, or at least to your sense of logic, to trace the source of instability in the world to its real source.
So far, we were pretty much in broad agreement. However, you then turn it all into a rant about the evil Islamic Militant Fundamentalism as cause of it all. There I got turned off. Others have been there before you, including the Germans.

I suppose the numerous examples of terrorism unrelated to Islamists just passed you by? Remember the terrible Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland? Oh yes, Islamists did it!

You are perfectly happy to exchange political vigilance for a quick fix. It's a pity you aren't alone on this.

[ Parent ]

if i had a dime for every twobit opinion i hear (none / 0) (#209)
by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 01:10:52 PM EST

We can both agree that America would be nowhere near attacking Iraq if it were not for September 11th.

Not so far. Especially if we are also to believe in the same breath that Iraq had it coming by flaunting UN resolutions for ten years. Which is it, the one or the other?


uh... that's a hard one. both genius. the desire to do something about iraq's flaunting of un resolutions existed before september 11th. the horror of september 11th was just a wake up call from hell about what was really at stake. new motivation to do something.

wwi rant

ok, thanks for rehashing world war i. your point being? the best i can pull from it was that the assassination of the austrian archduke was a flashpoint for a cascading chain reaction of history that led to a large awful war. agreed. september 11th could be pretty much the same. let me add to your rant my own rant about flashpoints. they are like a big domestic fight which begins over a minor disagreement between lovers. they reveal an underlying building of tension that existed before the minor disagreement. they are a catalyst for change, they reveal the larger underlying problem, they are not the sum total of the problem themselves. september 11th is such a catalyst. a wake up call from hell that islamic militant fundamentalism must be smacked down or it will continue to smack us around in growing degrees until something with a nuclear signature is heard.

9/11 is a convenient excuse for governments world wide to institute tougher monitoring of borders and citizens.

ok, this is your logic. guy comes up and smacks you in the head. you say to guy who smacked you in the head: "thanks for smacking me in the head! that was just the excuse i was looking for to get an aspirin!" LOL. do you get it? you are basically saying there are these guys in a smokey back room who want to remove all our freedoms. and as soon as september 11th happens, they started celebrating with champagne. "yeah for the death of thousands! now we can finally institute plan for global domination and slavery #9c! yeah for us smokey back room fat cats!" HAHAHAHA

are you off your medication? or do you believe like some in shock and denial in the islamic world that september 11th was done by jews. proof being no jews went to work in the world trade center towers that day. LOL. or some who have said that the bali blast was orchestrated by western powers as an excuse so they could continue their domination of the islamic world. HAHAHA. do i really have to address this issue? or are you coming to your senses now and realizing your own paranoid schizophrenia?

The question is whether the brinkmanship of our elected leaders will push us in too far or not.

that's a nice skipperdeedoo over some obvious gems of logic. let me refocus your rapidly spinning out of control mental energies. you refer to brinkmanship of our elected leaders. meaning what? meaning people we elected to represent our wills and desires. meaning the desires of the american people. meaning george bush is not your enemy, the will of the american people is your enemy. i hope we are clear on that point now.

You are absolutely right that Bush alone is not fully dangerous. However, a united bipartisan system with everyone cheerfully agreeing with everyone else on everything is. Hi ho hi ho it's off to work we go!

ok, forgive me, i see that you DO see the will of the american people is your enemy. let me send you the address of the local al qaeda recruiting office. LOL ;-P

Worldwide, I do dismiss it as just another terrorist bombing. There was another one in Bali recently. What I'm chewing on is the terribly worrying signs that ordinary Americans are happy to let their government take advantage of their anger. What I'm worrying is that all the history we learn is useless.

whoa, whoa, whoa there nelly. you are so close but so far away. you mention bali and september 11th in the same breath, and yet you continue to dismiss it as just another terrorist bombing. so close, so close and yet so far away. put the pieces together my friend. are you REALLY going to say these kinds of events are just another terrorist event, yawn. move along, folks, nothig to see here. is your your cynicism THAT deep!!??

and then the rant about americans having their anger taken advantage of. my naive little duckling! these represented officials are the MANIFESTATION of american anger! their anger is not manipulated, their anger is being substantiated and channeled by these men and women! are you that f***ing clueless and naive!!?? i won't even touch your comment aout learning from history. i think you need a refresher course. HAHAHA ;-P

I suppose the numerous examples of terrorism unrelated to Islamists just passed you by? Remember the terrible Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland? Oh yes, Islamists did it!

oh my gosh, are you for real? terrorism before al qaeda was local and uncoordinated. terrorism with al qaeda is growing, international, well-funded, desiring of nuclear and chemical and biological agents, deep in its roots, large in its numbers of particpants. i can't even begin to fathom how i can communicate to you the obvious difference in scope, size and threat of al qaeda to previous two-bit terrorism. northern ireland my ass! are you for real in making that kind of comparison? or just off your rocker? do you have an idea of the perspective here!!?? geez, why do i bother! your powers of analysis are like that of a mosquitoe's!!!

here let me help you:

USS Cole

Bali

US African Embassy Bombings

September 11th

your history lesson today kids is to put these in chronological order. and i will leave it to your wildly expansive grasp of history and current events to list a few more terrorist events al qaeda has CLAIMED responsibility for. shall we wait until the list grows to 100 entries? 200 entries? how many attacks until your cynical lack of a conscience is satisfied that aciton is necessary?

break.

i'm sorry, i mean to attack your arguments and not you personally. do i sound a little smug and patronizing? forgive me. well, you sound a little pathetic. HAHAHA oh shit, i'm screwed. oh well, you suck anyways. LOL ;-P if you represent the kind of people who oppose attacking iraq, we have no problems attacking iraq. you guys are about as mentally organized as a kindergarten classroom without a teacher. LOL

You are perfectly happy to exchange political vigilance for a quick fix. It's a pity you aren't alone on this.

you are perfectly happy to exchange a conscience for a backbiting self-doubting cynicism. you don't propose alternatives to postive change, you react with negative criticism to those with the rightful will to act. you have no real solutions of your own. it's a pity you aren't alone on this.

this isn't political vigilance on your part. it's paralyzed fear. it's a deer in the headlights. your reaction to september 11th? you don't have one. you are still in the denial phase. you haven't even taken the first step. forgive me if others have woken up to the real challenges in the world. we don't have time to wait for you and other like you to get with the program. history is watching. you don't even know what the real problem is. events like bali prove my point. the next bali/ september 11th will only further shrink you and others like you into the woodwork as others begin to wake up and see what is really going on in the world. islamic militant fundamentalism is the biggest problem facing the peace and tranquility in the world today, not poor stupid little george bush. political vigilance my ass. shrill lightheaded political nitpicking more like it.

your naivete and navel gazing is a poor excuse for a conscience and a grasp of the problems in the world. grow the f*** up. history is watching us all.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
What have the Romans ever done for us? (4.66 / 12) (#40)
by ukryule on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 12:49:48 AM EST

Your premise that guns swung the balance in favour of cities and civilisation is an interesting one, but I'm not convinced. The most obvious counterexample is the Romans. Clearly their civilisation gave their armies a big advantage over the disorganised tribes and warlords.

It's only with the collapse of the Empire that all the bandits could run riot through Europe. You could see the post-gun parallel in Africa - once the 'civilised' European nations retreat, the civil war/banditry/etc. takes over. The only difference is that the killing is more efficient when you use guns.

And, of course, while you talk about the civilisations destroyed by the Mongol hordes - don't forget the excellent job gun-wielding civilised nations have done in North & South America in destroying ancient civilisations.

Bastard! (2.00 / 3) (#44)
by Lord Snott on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 02:27:08 AM EST

I was gonna have a go at him about that! You beat me to it!
(And said it better than I could as well - I didn't think of the African warlords :)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
registration number 2,347,676.
Bummer :-(

[ Parent ]
The aqueducts (2.50 / 4) (#70)
by rhino1302 on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 07:51:34 PM EST

Oh yeah, yeah. They did give us that. That's true, yeah.

And sanitation.

Oh yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Yeah, all right, I'll grant you the aquaduct , the santation are two things the Romans have done...

And the roads.

Well, yeah. Obviously the roads, I mean the roads go without saying, don't they? But apart from the sanitation, the aquaduct, and the roads...



[ Parent ]
PC bigotry (2.50 / 6) (#42)
by nomoreh1b on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 01:25:36 AM EST

You need independent minds to do physics and engineering, and people that have independent thoughts are to dictators what guns are to drunk rednecks.

Do you really need ethnic slurs to talk about this general topic? "Redneck" is a slur frequently applied to people of Scots-Irish descent from the South. One claimed origin of the term "redneck" is that is started with "redshanks"-a term for folks that escaped bonded labor in the tidewater area.

I'm also not aware of any problem that "drunk rednecks" have with managing their firearms. drive by shootings and such are more an urban pastime in places like LA and NYC.

As one who is... (2.00 / 2) (#55)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 10:06:52 AM EST

As someone from said people, I can tell you many, many stories of moronic southern white guys playing with guns after imbibing large quantities of alcohol.

People from LA can probably tell darwinesque banger jokes, and NYC folks can probably do the same about gangsters. It's a joke son, a joke.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Get over it (1.00 / 1) (#144)
by Woundweavr on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 11:48:20 AM EST

Sheesh, you just don't know how to take a joke do you? Redneck is not ethnically based(well, it does refer to whites). It is lifestyle based. Its no more racist than "hippie." Get over it.

-An Irish-Scot

[ Parent ]

You forget tactics and training (4.50 / 6) (#45)
by Quila on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 03:25:04 AM EST

The Roman soldiers weren't especially vicious, nor were they generally large, strong people. Normally, they with their shields and spears would have fallen under the battle axes and lances of the Gauls.

However, the Romans had tactics and training. They knew how to stay in formation, vastly multiplying their effectiveness. And only because of this, the disorganized "charge and hack" non-strategy of the barbarians had no chance at all. While it is not perfect, the movie Gladiator will give you insight into the importance of tactics.

It was only the internal disintigration of the empire that let it weaken enough to be overrun by the barbarians.

This doesn't even count the first revolution in weaponry -- bronze. Copper and stone weapons didn't stand a chance, and tribes so armed fell quickly. The second that comes to mind was heavy armor, which made knights almost invincible to others without. Next, the long bow ended that reign because it could pierce the armor. These inventions in weaponry definitely caused those with the technology to stay in power.

more on Rome (4.00 / 4) (#52)
by adequate nathan on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:49:59 AM EST

The Romans were only average as fighters. The Greeks routinely beat the Romans in open confrontations (for instance, Pyrrhos twice licked much larger Roman forces.)

The Romans excelled in food production, administration, societal stability, and civil engineering. They built such an efficient state that they had tons of soldiers ready to go at any time. The Roman ability to keep fielding soldiers long after other states had exhausted themselves meant that the Romans tended to win wars despite losing battles. Further, once a state was taken, it was likely to stay Roman, given the efficiency of the occupation (and often higher standard of living that came with it.)

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Not really (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 10:03:53 AM EST

As long as the only thing that differentiated you from your opponent was training, there was always a risk that an army more determined could either outwit your tactics or overwhelm you with numbers (happened a bunch of times to Rome). Two men with bows could hold off a few dozen calvalry, as long as they didn't have bows themselves. How many can two men with a machine gun hold off?

There were material revolutions, yes, but firearms represented a revolution in technology

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Yes but, (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by a humble lich on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 08:22:10 PM EST

Two guys with a machine gun can hold of a number of cavalry, but what about two guys with muskets. Remember cavalry with swords remained important through much of the 19th century. And American Indians with bow and arrows often did better than Europeans with guns.

Sure Rome was often outwitted by less well equipped foes. But so were the British in Africa, or the US in the Philippines, or the US at Little Big Horn, ...

[ Parent ]

Again, not quite (none / 0) (#96)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 12:40:26 PM EST

Cavalry with swords, good cavalry with swords, take years to train and in many ways can do nothing but be cavalry with swords. Indians with bows and arrows are the same. And, essentially, it's the same with pretty much any muscle-powered weapon. It takes a lot of training, which makes you a b*tch to replace if you get yourself dead.

In contrast, gun-equipped infantry are far easier to train, don't have to practice all day, every day, to be deadly, and are relatively easy to replace.

War comes down to numbers most times... I win because I kill more of your fighting men than you can afford to replace. If I can replenish my losses twice as fast as you can, with men who are essentially as effective as the ones you killed, you cannot win, because your guys take twice as long to train to even be half as effective as the guys I'm killing. This is how guns revolutionized war.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Your wrong (none / 0) (#172)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 04:10:23 PM EST

Good fire-arm equiped units take ALOT of training to be effective on the battlefield.

I can't tell you how many accounts I've heard of green troops under fire for the first time having to be (quite literaly) kicked by thier NCO's just to get it together enough to return fire... let alone be effective at it.

Just read the accounts of how many green combat officers the U.S. had to sack for incompetence during the Normandy Campaign.

Training, tactics, leadership and morale are still overwhelming factors in modern combat.

It was Napoleon himself that said "Morale is to manpower as 3 is to 1".

Sure you can shove fire-arms into a bunch of hastily raised fire-arms... the first time they come under fire they'll drop them and run.

Just like this first time peasants armed with pikes face a charge they'll break and run.

[ Parent ]

Modern democracies (4.25 / 12) (#46)
by Djinh on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 03:27:10 AM EST

"And modern democracies don't start wars"

And that makes the US, what exactly?

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.

A modern democracy (1.66 / 9) (#53)
by dscottj on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:58:24 AM EST

The provocations may not seem related when viewed by the rest of the world, and on occasion (Vietnam) were flat-out manufactured, but I personally cannot think of a single time in the past century at least that the US has gone to war without some sort of provocation.

If you can't see the provocation that triggered the latest crisis, you're blind.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

But.. (1.00 / 1) (#98)
by Kwil on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 01:38:29 PM EST

..if provocation can be "flat-out manufactured", then really you're just playing semantics.

"Well.. they were provoked. Okay, so they actually made the provocation, but.."

If you're taking that angle on it, then any conflict was provoked.  The hordes were provoked to stampede in on civilization by their shit living conditions.

Which makes the defence meaningless, and thus your point as well.

It would be more accurate to argue that when a society is organized enough to develop nuclear weapons, they are also organized enough to realize the devastating consequences of using those weapons, and so will avoid them whenever possible.

This says absolutely nothing about war, and is, in my opinion, much more correct.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Misquote (3.60 / 5) (#62)
by br284 on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 06:09:37 PM EST

I think the original quote was something along the lines that modern capitalist democracies do not go to war against each other.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

uh..ok (2.00 / 3) (#69)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 07:45:43 PM EST

then what hapened in the Falklands?

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
in case you don't remember (3.50 / 2) (#71)
by tichy on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 08:18:08 PM EST

Argentina started the war. At the time, it was a military dictatorship.

[ Parent ]
Umm... (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by br284 on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 03:23:59 AM EST

Are you disagreeing with the quote, or with me that the quote was made? I don't quite get the point of your post. I said nothing about Argentina.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

What? (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by holdfast on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 08:41:54 AM EST

The Falklands were invaded by a large nearby military dictatorship - Argentina.
Fortunately for the Falklanders, the UK leadership decided to go and "remove" the invaders.
A side effect of this was that the military dictatorship in Argentina collapsed and the country became a democracy again.


"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Re: Modern democracies. (3.72 / 11) (#65)
by Secularist on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 06:48:50 PM EST

And that makes the US, what exactly?

A mercantilist, fascist State.

[ Parent ]
The US doesn't fight wars any more (2.75 / 4) (#105)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 05:58:48 PM EST

A war is when two armies fight. The US massacres third world countries. A big difference.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
Recommended reading... (3.66 / 3) (#47)
by NFW on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 03:57:47 AM EST

"The Trigger" by Arthur Clarke and a co-auther whose name I've forgotten.  It's near-future fiction with some interesting ideas about arms races and peace.  It's also a really good story with interesting characters and good writing.

It neither supports nor disputes the article above, but if you find the subject interesting, you'll like the book.


--
Got birds?


The articles reminds me of the Jagged Orbit (3.66 / 3) (#49)
by pattern against user on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 06:25:48 AM EST

It's an interesting and darkly humourous SF read, by John Brunner, which takes the concept of gun-ownership and racial segregration to extreme conclusions (think nukes).

[ Parent ]
Although I voted this story up... (3.14 / 7) (#51)
by GRiNGO on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 08:02:47 AM EST

... I disagree with you. Do you really imagine that the Gulf War, Faulklands War, WWI & WWII, Pearl Harbour, Hiroshima, etc would have taken place had the participants been reduced to using bows and arrows and swords? Bollox.

I read somewhere that either WWI or WWII ( cant remember which ) claimed 10 million lives. That would take a fucking long time with bows and arrows.

--
"I send you to Baghdad a long time. Nobody find you. Do they care, buddy?" - Three Kings


One bit not quite true (3.80 / 10) (#61)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 04:38:51 PM EST

Making a "planet buster," while theoretically as easy as making a five megaton device, isn't really even remotely as simple. The major problem is that the energy required to destroy something which exists in three dimensions(eg, a planet,) increases exponentially with the size of the object, and that a fusion reaction that will reliably continue to the point of producing that much energy is rather hard to design into the physical constraints of any sort of usable package.

In any case, nuclear weapons have doubtless been a force for stability in the world, and the idiots yammering that they were used should remember that the only reason for using them was to show their power - since that was done, there has never again been an even marginally practical use for any significant nuclear explosive on a battlefield, save as bargaining chips. (Rumors abound of the use of modern low yield clean types in various places, but if these actually happened, any real evidence of or even credible testimony to that fact is the best kept major secret in history, so that seems unlikely. In any case, we're talking about weapons with yields comparable to large conventional explosives and minimal radiation signatures, so even if they were used, that isn't such a big deal; they're not the horrors you're looking for.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Not that hard at all (4.00 / 4) (#68)
by localroger on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 07:40:32 PM EST

The major problem is that the energy required to destroy something which exists in three dimensions(eg, a planet,) increases exponentially with the size of the object, and that a fusion reaction that will reliably continue to the point of producing that much energy is rather hard to design into the physical constraints of any sort of usable package.

Well, you don't have to "destroy" the planet in the sense of splitting it in half. All you have to do is wreck the ecosystem, comparable to what a major asteroid strike might do, and you've done the job adequately.

And for busting a planet, the only requirement for a package to be "usable" is that it be possible to build it somewhere on the planet -- you don't have to "deliver" it. I'd guess that a bomb of 100 gigatons power, especially detonated on an island so as to start a nice massive tidal wave, would definitely put an end to civilization, likely an end to the human race, and just possibly an end to all macrofauna.

Such a bomb would have to be 5000 times as massive as the large 'busters of the cold war, but we have easily enough material available to build one. Dimensionally it would only be the cube root of 5000 or less than 20 times as wide and long as bombs we've built; it might resemble an entire missile silo filled with lithium deuteride, or a modest building if built horizontally.

You would trigger it with a smaller H-bomb. The usual biggest problem of H-bomb design, getting the gammas out to compress the cylindrical core and let it react before the primary blast wave tears the assembly apart, would probably be simpler than it is for smaller, more compact bombs.

Not really a big deal if you have the infrastructure to build H-bombs at all.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

You don't even need to do that ... (4.00 / 2) (#117)
by Kaos on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 10:46:19 PM EST

To destroy all life on earth would be fairly easy (from a technical standpoint, to decide to do it would probably be the hardest part) the plot of the Film that this discussion takes its name from talked briefly about such weapons.

A large thermonuclear weapon (I believe the Soviets were looking at ~100 Megatons) exploded inside a large Cobalt vessel would produce enough long lasting radioactive cobalt isotopes in the high atmosphere to kill all life on earth in a few short months.

Sadly studies were done into developing exactly this kind of weapon, the Soviets considered it under Krustchev, one wonders who else looked at the idea.

The largest nuke ever exploded was a 50 Megaton device built by the Soviets, but if you can do 50 you can probably do 100 or 500 or whatever you like.


Be wary of strong drink, it can make you shoot at tax collectors and miss.
[ Parent ]

One small detail (none / 0) (#165)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 01:08:42 PM EST

By "usable package," one cannot truly mean "any functional device you can fit onto land you control." Do you really think anyone is going to just let his neighbor build such a device? You could not possibly do it secretly in the modern world, and until it was complete and operational, an attack on it would be trivial. It is a large, fixed, relatively fragile target, and it has no conceivable purpose that anyone, even your allies, would accept. Sure, you might start a war over it, but since you're clearly planning to destroy all life on earth, why should they care about that?

Also, for really big hydrogen fusion weapons, there is another problem: making sure all the hydrogen actually fuses, rather than simply being blown away. I'm not sure, but I think I read somewhere that a calculation error on the difficulty of doing this for smaller bombs was part of what led the Soviets to initially attempt other forms of fusion weapons. It is probably doable, but it might substantially affect the size and/or complexity. One possible problem: will your smaller hydrogen initiator fire quickly enough to correctly set off the larger weapon, or will it just destroy the latter uselessly?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
What stablity? (4.00 / 3) (#76)
by pyramid termite on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:18:25 PM EST

In any case, nuclear weapons have doubtless been a force for stability in the world,

Convincing a good part of a generation of people that they'd see Armageddon in their lifetime has not been a force for stability. Even now, people seem to be remembering, after a few post-Cold War years of forgetfulness, that these weapons still exist and they could be used with horrific results. Look at the reactions of some people to this and tell me that it really helps stability at all. I don't think it's a coincidence that rates of violence went up during the Cold War and started to go down when it was done. It's certainly not a coincidence that cynicism and nihilism have been high, also.

As far as stability in international relations is concerned, I think the current state of the world is answer enough for that - I doubt that many world conflicts will end or be stopped from starting just because we have a lot of bombs.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Heh (none / 0) (#163)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 12:55:00 PM EST

I don't think most people really believed they'd see nuclear war. I never knew anyone who did. In any case, what rates of violence are you talking about? Nuclear weapons probably prevented World War III. Do you really believe the US and USSR wouldn't have gone at it if the consequences hadn't been so horrible?

Cynicism and nihilism are hardly unique to our time.

It is true that nuclear weapons alone will not prevent chaos in a massively multilateral climate such as we have now. However, they can be used as insurance to allow nations that possess them to try to produce order. "We may be right or wrong, but we have the bomb. Respect our authority!"

Of course, you despise the last statement, I'm sure. I don't particularly like it either; I'd rather let the world rot if it wants to. However, the discussion is about nuclear weapons' effect in the world we actually live in - not the world we wish we lived in.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
You missed it (3.80 / 5) (#66)
by Rainy on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 07:20:33 PM EST

You missed the really interesting thing about h-bombs.

H-bombs unite all humanity in one fate.

Before, it was like this.. you rule your country, and you have your generals and servants and such, and you decide to wage war for some reason (ranging from rage to boredom). You arm workers and peasants, or knights, and send them off. They either win or lose, which means you end up either happy in your victory, or upset in your defeat. Perhaps you'll have to hold off building that large castle, or something.

That was the psychology behind warfare. Sure, you could end up dead but you could end up dead by falling off your porch, too. Generally speaking, you decided whether you want your peasants to work for you this year or to die for you this year.

Now, the war is suddenly in the living-room of the decision-makers. You may decide to launch an offence, and several hours later vapors that used to be your body will decide to condence on the remnants of a concrete wall that used to be your villa. Kind of makes you pause and think for a bit, eh?

So, I guess my point is, these new bombs are a mixed bag. I instinctively distrust anyone who made up their mind on whether they're a good thing or not.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day

i dont agree with you one bit (3.37 / 8) (#75)
by turmeric on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 08:59:04 PM EST

instability and violence usually comes from an empiral conquest in order to enforce ideology on normally docile "barbarian" tribes. such as the roman empire (that whole jesus thing was essentially a protest movement against their imperialism and violence) , the babylonian empire, the mongolian empire (no they were not isolated drunks, they were an imperial force), the chinese empire, the japanese empire, the british empire, spanish, french, dutch, german, and finally, American empire.

by your logic the most advanced technological culture would be those who practiced violence the least. however America is at war at least every decade , openly, and secretly it has been constantly at war since it was founded, just about. If we dont start wars then tell me what was Zaire, what was Vietnam, what was the Spanish American war, what was the wars that expanded the boundaries of the country and added new states, and what war is Bush about to start?

Ancient democracies existed, some African tribal socieites practiced regicide: when your king is ruling poorly, you kill him. That is pretty harsh and we dont want that, but today we cannot even vote the guy out, but he can have us killed no problem. Locked away in jail 'forever' if he wants.Native American councils with the british drove the british crazy because they kept talking about their individual rights all the time. technology does not make democracy, in fact, the most advanced technological states have had severe problems implementing democracy alongside industrial processes that are usually designed without 'egalitarianism' in mind.

blah blah blahetc tec etc. obviously you did not read the same history books as i did.



Incorrect (3.50 / 2) (#89)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 09:39:03 AM EST

The "nobel savage" argument you put forward has long since been discredited by both historians and anthropologists. Nomadic tribesmen (your "barbarians") are even more violent, reactionary, and cruel than their settled agricultural neighbors. Who are in turn far more nasty than most people in the modern world realize.

The "Jesus thing" did not cause the destruction of the Roman empire. Far from it. Pilate ordered the execution of a single troublemaker whose followers had deserted him out of hand and without a second thought. It would take more than two hundred years for christians to become a real power in the empire, and even then they supported rather than repudiated it.

You are not reading the essay closely enough. I am not arguing a political point, rather a technological one. Your claim that my argument means "powerful cultures = peaceful cultures" is not what I am saying.

I am saying that the development of gunpowder weapons signaled the end of nomadic herdsmen as the primary source of instability and cultural collapse in Eurasia. The development of nuclear weapons signaled the end of totalitarianism as a primary source of instability in the world.

Obviously I did not read the same history books you did. I read more of them, and paid more attention.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

Poor form (4.20 / 5) (#100)
by pmc on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 02:21:49 PM EST

For an author to claim that "you are not reading the article closely enough" looks like a cop out for a badly made point. I think the point was badly made not to mention contentious.

I did read the article fairly closely and was struck by a number of items. Your first claim was that "the nomads would win". The nomads comparitively rarely won - look how long ancient empires survived - Babylonian, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and so on. Sure, the nomads only had to win once to destroy an empire (although see below), but they would regularly get well beaten in battles for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. A success rate of (being generous) 1% does not make nomadic tribesmen the primary source of instability and collapse. Much more probable causes of collapse were internal strife, corruption, inbreeding of dynastic families, invasion by another empire, and so on: there are probably as many different ways for a nation or empire to collapse as there have been nations. The barbarians may be picking over the bones, but they are just the hyenas: the empire was already dead.

Then we move onto your "gunpowder thesis". Apparently guns made it "easier, faster, and cheaper to form an effective fighting force", whilst at the same time "A knight can afford to make his own swords, but only a king can get enough cash to make a cannon". So which is it: gunpower weapons so cheap anyone can have one, or just the domain of kings? I think I see what your saying - it costs a lot to make your first gun and almost nothing to make the next one - but it isn't expressed very well.

And I disagree with the conclusion you draw from this: "Getting those capabilities changed you into one of the civilized peoples". I'd say that if you did not get these capabilities your society would cease to exist. There were some very uncivilised societies with gunpowder weapons. Unless by civilised you mean industrialised, which is a circular definition.

The next one is a gem: "Each leap in technology meant it took fewer and fewer people to actually fight the war.". And you say you read your history books? Wars have grown from hundreds of people, to thousands, to, in the 20th century, tens of millions of people. You are so very wrong here.

Now, on to the nukes. Your second thesis was "The development of nuclear weapons signaled the end of totalitarianism as a primary source of instability in the world." For a start, you've not shown that totalitarianism was a primary source of instability in the world. It may or may not be true, but you can hardly throw it in as a central premise of your argument without some support. You seem also to be implying that totalitarian societies cannot develop nuclear weapons (apparently only good guys can do this). The obvious counter examples are The Soviet Union, and Pakistan. So I don't think that this theory holds much water. You also miss the dynamics of society: India, also a nuclear power and currently a democracy, could turn into a totalitarian state. Maybe not now, but over a fifty or a hundred year time span?

Then there is the "nukes are difficult" argument, which should be "nukes are currently quite difficult, but getting easier every day."

Then there is the "Modern Democracies don't start wars". Oh, please. If you define "start", "modern", "war", and "democracy" narrowly (as you have been in your responses) then you can claim to be right, but the statement then become meaningless: any counter examples (of which there have been plenty) is deemed by you to fail one of your four purity tests.

[ Parent ]

One point (4.00 / 1) (#126)
by Spendocrat on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 02:31:55 AM EST

With respect to how many people are actually fighting in a war, raw numbers are completely meaningless. A per-capita comparison would be meaningful.

[ Parent ]
Okay (5.00 / 1) (#150)
by pmc on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 04:02:04 PM EST

Yes, they increased as a ratio of per capita (for Britain anyway). In the Napoleonic wars Britian fielded a maximum army of 320,000 troops out of a population of 16 million (2%). In the first world war it fielded 2.6 million out of a population of 43 million (6%). In WW2 it fielded about 5 million out of 48 million (10%).

I've picked these because there were all-out wars, and not just stategic skirmishes.

[ Parent ]

Still incorrect (3.50 / 2) (#142)
by dscottj on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 11:09:27 AM EST

Most ancient empires survived for a few centuries at best. The "great" Roman empire we are all shown in school lasted only two hundred years. The eastern Roman empire lasted perhaps a century more. Their cultures lasted much longer, but the empires themselves did not.

But more importantly, nomadic herdsmen attacked the cultures involved. While empires may rise and fall on their own devices, the real cultural breaks experienced by the west were invariably caused by barbarian invasion.

You are again focusing on the wrong end of the argument, and are most definitely not understanding. Guntech did not make the weapons themselves easier, it made building effective fighting forces easier. Others have tried to bring up the effectiveness of non-western nomadic herdsmen in the 19th century (the plains Indian warrior) as proof that preindustrial cultures could field effective fighting forces. They unfortunately ignore the fact that such warriors took decades to train, and once lost were gone forever, whereas an infantryman takes mere months or weeks, and can be replaced at will.

"There were some very uncivilized societies with gunpowder weapons."

Again focusing on the wrong argument. Acquiring guntech is different from purchasing it. Anyone with money can purchase weapons, but without the tactical, strategic, and even societal supports those weapons are useless in the face of an opponent who has them. By your own argument, the spread of guntech to the rest of the world should have re-established nomadic herdsmen as a force to be reckoned with, and yet the last Mongol invasion occurred more than five hundred years ago. If not guns, what?

"Wars have grown from hundreds of people, to thousands, to, in the 20th century, tens of millions of people"

Again, focusing on the wrong end of the argument. Modern weaponry requires fewer people, but in practice this has tended to mean fielding armies of comparable size but which are monstrously more effective.

Armies throughout history have at times reached numbers exceeding a quarter million troops. The efficiencies of industrialized communication merely allowed the close co-ordination of these forces across unprecedented distance.

But that simply supports the second half of the essay. Guntech, the use of chemicals as a method of projecting power, turned into an uncontrollable force multiplier. While it caused nomadic herdsmen to cease being the primary threat to cultural stability, it introduced, and in no small part created, the dictatorial nation state as a replacement for that instability.

Kings are dictators by another name. Before guns, such dictators were comparatively weak. The economics behind gun manufacture and the tactics of their use coalesced power into strong central authorities. As the weaponry became more effective by orders of magnitude, these very dictators became the primary threat of instability not just to the Eurasian landmass, but the entire world. Only the development of nuclear weapons, the second fundamental revolution in the projection of power, did such dictators, and the wars they caused, cease to be a factor in the instability of modern culture.

"For a start, you've not shown that totalitarianism was a primary source of instability in the world. It may or may not be true, but you can hardly throw it in as a central premise of your argument without some support. "

Because I didn't think I needed to. Please go back and review your history books. Go to the sections titled "origins of the first world war", and "Kaiser". Then skip ahead to "origins of the second world war". Then go backward a bit and read up on "the Napoleonic wars". Then do a quick read of "the prince" and "on war" (technically not history books, I know, but you get the picture) for a look into the minds of the people who perpetrated these events.

"The obvious counter examples are The Soviet Union, and Pakistan. So I don't think that this theory holds much water."

Again, a result of not reading closely enough. As I read the newspapers, the Soviet Union is no more, and the Russians seem pretty damned democratic to me. Pakistan used to be a democracy, and probably will be again in the next ten to twenty years. Regardless, neither society has used them, and my argument is nuclear weapons turn a society into one which will not use them.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

You're not making an argument (4.00 / 1) (#149)
by pmc on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 02:52:34 PM EST

Ancient Empires did last varying lengths of time - but it was not nomads sweeping in from the steppe that destroyed most of them. Ancient Egypt was conquer, Rome went throught varying stages of decline and rise before falling (finally) after about 500 years. The cause of the decline was religion, internicine strife, bad plumbing (seriously) and not the Visigoths, Vandals, and Huns who picked clean the remains.

The nomadic tribesmen did not attack the cultures involved - they did it for immediate personal and tribal gain. Your argument is like saying bank robbers aren't really there for the money, they are making a statement against the global economic order.

The real cultural breaks were caused by the fall of the empire for, by and large, internal reasons or conquest by another empire. The barbarians were not operating towards a lofty goal of empire destroying - there were opportunists.

You are again focusing on the wrong end of the argument, - it's your argument: if you cannot make your argument clear then don't blame me. and are most definitely not understanding. Saucer of milk for the bewildered pseudo-historian. - Guntech did not make the weapons themselves easier, it made building effective fighting forces easier. No it didn't. The only way of measuring the effectiveness of a fighting force is by who they are fighting. What it did allow was larger armies (which is actually the opposite of what you said in the article: "Each leap in technology meant it took fewer and fewer people to actually fight the war"). These armies were no more effective than before as they were going up against similarly equiped opposition.

By your own argument, the spread of guntech to the rest of the world should have re-established nomadic herdsmen as a force to be reckoned with, and yet the last Mongol invasion occurred more than five hundred years ago. If not guns, what?

You miss my argument (by a mile). I say that nomadic invasions have never been a threat except to empires that are already dead, and then only seldom. Is that clear?

"For a start, you've not shown that totalitarianism was a primary source of instability in the world. It may or may not be true, but you can hardly throw it in as a central premise of your argument without some support. "
Because I didn't think I needed to. Please go back and review your history books. Another ad hominien attack Go to the sections titled "origins of the first world war",

That is very naive. The Kaiser caused the first world war? Nope - the first world war was as the result of imperial struggles between the powers in Europe - some democratic, some autocratic. Germany was in fact a democracy at the time. The Reichstag was then elected by a universal franchise of all males over the age of 24. The (elected) Chancellor held the power, and although the Kaiser had considerable influcence in the run up to WWI it was by no means a dictatorship.

Then skip ahead to "origins of the second world war".

Hitler was elected too. And the real origin of the second world war (in Europe) was probably the Treaty of Versailles.

Then go backward a bit and read up on "the Napoleonic wars".

Yes - I have. Your point here eludes me. Apart form being about 1800, when there were very few democracies about, the Napoleonic Wars were the reaction to the other nations of Europe attacking France in the turmoil after the overthrow of the Monarchy (an autocracy it might be added). At the time of the early Napoleonic Wars France was more a democracy than an autocracy (actually, it was more of an anarchy). Napoleon took over when the civillian Government collapsed. Then came the later Napoleonic Wars - these were caused in part by the British Blockade of french ports, and pressure put on any trading partners of the Napoleonic government by the British. This caused Napoleon to think about invading Britain to end the blockades and trade disruptions, and, while he was massing his army on in the North of France, Russia and Austria attacked in the south. Napoleon, in a classic military manouver, defeated them (albeit at the cost of the chance to invade Britain).

And the various Napoleonic wars continued in a similar fashion until the battle of Waterloo, when he was finally defeated (ironically, this defeat was probably due to his losses of a huge proportion of his veterans in the Iberian campaign, which rather contradicts your point about armies needing little training in the gun age).

Then do a quick read of "the prince" and "on war" (technically not history books, I know, but you get the picture) for a look into the minds of the people who perpetrated these events.

Ah - "The Prince", by Niccoli Machiavelli. Written in about 1505, and definitely a classic. But, it was written before the gun became a battlefield weapon of note (the wheellock, an essential component, was invented 4 years after it was written). And strangely, for a book about gaining and holding power in the pre-gun age, it doesn't mention nomads once. It does, hoever, mention barbarians (it is the title of the concluding chapter: "An Exhortation To Liberate Italy From The Barbarians") these are not the barbarians from the steppe, they are the barbariand responsible for such things as teh Renaissance, Da Vinci, Venice, and the great Italian cities.

Again, a result of not reading closely enough. Is it possible for you to make a point that does not include an ad hominien attack? As I read the newspapers, the Soviet Union is no more, and the Russians seem pretty damned democratic to me. And China is just about to hold elections, are they? But that wasn't your point - "And the kind of government that puts a maniac in charge and keeps him there is not the kind of government that fosters the scientists and engineers you need to figure it out on your own." Russia developed weapons as a dictatorship. China has been a communist dictatorship since they got nuclear capability. North Korea have done the hard part (it is estimated that they have about 20kg of weapons grade plutonium). Maybe these were wrong sort of dictatorships?

A quick note about Pakistan: it became a nuclear power when it was a military dictatorship.

[ Parent ]

India and Pakistan (4.50 / 4) (#77)
by oyving on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:21:15 PM EST

Both are countries that have developed nuclear weapons recently, and neither of them can be described as very wealthy nor very democratic.

They are continually at each others throat, and there is a bigger chance weapons of mass destruction will be used there than anywhere else in the world.

Pakistan, which was a democracy of some sorts had a coup d'etat where General Musharaf toppled the legitimate government on the claims that it was corrupt (I am not saying he was wrong there).  Then he rules the country as a military dictatorship, and holds "elections" later which he of course wins.

India is pestered by people actually voting for the war-mongering political parties.  Go them!

IMO, both these nations illustrate that you do not have to be very civilised, you do not have to have insane ammounts of resources, and you do not have to be a democracy to develop nuclear weapons.

On a happy note; the calculated fallout of a nuclear conflict between them was somewhere around 20 million, not much considering the population of the region.

Fission bombs. (2.50 / 2) (#81)
by dhul fakdr on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:44:19 PM EST

Are what India and Pakistan have.

Doomsday weapons are massively multi-stage fusion devices. It is not clear if any exist.

[ Parent ]

Democracies (4.00 / 4) (#88)
by dscottj on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 09:29:47 AM EST

I'm sure most citizens of India would disagree with your assesment of their government. To this day it is the largest democracy in the world.

It could be argued that pakistan is a special situation. As with the larger cold war, it has a very large, and in its view very belligerent, neighbor. Once India openly demonstrated its nuclear capability in 1974 it was almost inevitable that Pakistan would respond. Even then, it took more than twenty years for them to do so, and more than thirty to test it.

I stand behind the assertion that once you gain the ability to become a nuclear power, your society will have transformed itself into something that will not use that nuclear power.

Further, especially in the case of India and Pakistan, the rest of the world's nuclear powers will go completely out of their way to ensure you do not use your newfangled toys. Both governments were openly surprised at the overwhelming reaction from the west when they last approached real conflict.

Before, we probably would've ignored them and let them slug it out. Both countries have now discovered the rules have changed, and the rest of the world won't let them start in on each other anymore.

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

No wonder (4.00 / 1) (#108)
by bayankaran on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 06:56:40 PM EST

IMO, both these nations illustrate that you do not have to be very civilised, you do not have to have insane ammounts of resources, and you do not have to be a democracy to develop nuclear weapons.

A comment like the above brings home the insular nature of Average Westerner.

I presume you are living in very civilized sorroundings, please do explain what do you mean by very civilised?

I would like to know why those countries you mentioned are not civilized?

[ Parent ]
Peace is war, chaos is stability (4.20 / 5) (#78)
by pyramid termite on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:24:24 PM EST

We live in a warring, chaotic world and the weapons you praise as being agents of peace and stability, or the threat of using them, are the source of much of the war and the chaos. If there is a saving grace for humanity, it will not be because of these weapons but in spite of them.

Hint - the saving grace in question probably has something to do with our willingness to get off the planet.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
Where is your proof? (4.00 / 2) (#91)
by mindstrm on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 11:31:18 AM EST

Do you have anything to back that up?

Has there been a period of peace and harmony in human history? Were things peaceful before weapons of mass destruction? The history books seem to indicate no, things were quite bloodthirsty, and nations were out conquering all over.


[ Parent ]

Strawman! (4.50 / 2) (#109)
by pyramid termite on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 06:57:19 PM EST

Has there been a period of peace and harmony in human history?

And I claimed this where?

You're asking me to back up a claim that weapons or the threat of using them cause war and chaos - now, let's see - how many wars do we know where the combatants used their fists and kicked at each other? How many times did the youth of an age conclude that life was hopeless because the elders were threatening to bitch-slap the world to an end? Hell, how many times did they conclude that the world would end because everyone would be shooting each other with Gatling guns?

No, we've actually managed to make Armageddon an actual possibility. If you think this hasn't caused psychological trauma in people then you haven't been paying attention.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Armageddon (3.50 / 2) (#139)
by RoOoBo on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 10:37:37 AM EST

No, we've actually managed to make Armageddon an actual possibility. If you think this hasn't caused psychological trauma in people then you haven't been paying attention.

In fact the only country that get bombed with atomic bombs has many examples of that trauma. Do you know for example how much anime is based in complete or partial destruction of the Earth? That forgetting the 'Hiroshima' anime movie that I think is a must see for everyone, the author was a survivor.



[ Parent ]
hmm (4.00 / 3) (#80)
by boxed on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 09:32:07 PM EST

Seems to me like all the more modern weapons have done is made each war more terrible than the last one but also further apart.

Diminishing Costs of Mass Destruction (4.66 / 6) (#85)
by opendna on Fri Oct 11, 2002 at 11:34:39 PM EST

Consider for a moment the poor slob who, survived the pillage of his village, looks at his broken copper sword and thinks "how the %*&$#@ did they do that?!"

He now knows there is something stronger and sets about to discover what that material is, so he can set about slaughtering the SOBs who just left.

We have a similar problem with weapons of mass destruction.

The first one to build them carries most of the costs because he doesn't know if it can be done. Once it's proven to work everyone else just has to figure out how to do it.

Sure, in the beginning you had the world's biggest industrial power sinking tremendous energy into the Manhattan Project. Then you had a massive centralized economy (World Power #2) on a dedicated catch-up program. Next you have second-tier world powers join the game... France, UK, China. Each country that builds a bomb makes it easier for others to follow the path.

Technology proliferates, theories go public, industries look for markets and so on. There are public files on different ways to refine weapons grade material; "this way is more efficient but you need higher grade inputs... this way is slower and more expensive but your inputs can be poor quality..."

Hey! That Mac G4 - is it a supercomputer for your nuclear program or a workstation for your film industry?

Others have already mentioned that India and Pakistan, not exactly prime examples of industrially advanced democratic nations, have developed nuclear weapons. To these we might add Apartheid South Africa, Isreal and Iran as confirmed (or *strongly* suspected) nuclear success stories.

When countries like Libya believe themselves capable of building nuclear weapons, I think it's safe to say the costs of production have significantly declined since the 1940s.

High barriers to entry are like bricks floating in mid-air: they're bound to drop sooner or later.



About Libya, India, and Pakistan... (4.50 / 2) (#122)
by fenster blick on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 11:27:03 PM EST

While "countries like Libya might believe themselves capable of building nuclear weapons", the opposite may in fact be true. Perhaps Libya proclaims this as a way of showing off to the world?

On the other hand, I once heard a political scientist say that Libya has tried to buy weapons. I *think* he said that Pakistan was one of the countries that Libya approached. Fortunately, the Pak's turned Libya down.

As for India and Pakistan having nuclear weapons, India probably got help from USSR. Likewise, Pakistan's nuclear program was greatly assisted by the Chinese (who were at one point assisted by the USSR). The Pak's simply could not have done it by themselves.

I personally think that it's pretty much unfeasible for a non-1st world nation to develop nuclear weapons by themselves. I would argue that the barriers of entry are only sufficiently reduced when another foreign assistance by a nuclear power is given.

[ Parent ]

Is trade "foreign assistance"? [nt] (2.00 / 1) (#129)
by opendna on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 03:30:37 AM EST



[ Parent ]
And that's the problem.. (4.00 / 2) (#92)
by DeadBaby on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 12:00:06 PM EST

That's exactly the problem. It's virtually impossible that some country with nuclear weapons right now (Pakistan & Russia especially) won't end up having weapons turning up missing.

You say that building H-Bombs is very hard. I think everyone agrees about that but I've always been under the impression building an A-Bomb isn't all that difficult. (in relative terms) In fact I remember reading somewhere that the average college engineering studen could build an A-Bomb if they had nuclear fuel to use in it. Am I way off base here or what?
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

Building A-Bombs (3.00 / 5) (#132)
by Arker on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 06:50:42 AM EST

In fact I remember reading somewhere that the average college engineering studen could build an A-Bomb if they had nuclear fuel to use in it. Am I way off base here or what?

Not being intimately familiar with the abilities of the average college engineering student I'll just say that it's quite a bit more complicated than making a hand grenade, but no more complicated than, say, dismantling a bridge with explosives. But that's assuming one had the nuclear fuel - that part is very very difficult. You can't just pick up any nuclear fuel and use it (that wouldn't exactly be easy even if it would work btw) - this requires very special enriched fissible material, saying it's easy other than that is sort of missing the point, as that's an incredibly difficult thing.

Also, remember that stockpiles of the stuff degrade quickly. Warheads in missile silos have to be removed regularly and 'refreshed' - they disassemble the warhead, remove the fissible material, spin it in a centrefuge to remove the portion that has turned to lead, then add fresh material and rebuild the warhead. This has to be done regularly or they won't explode. There is some doubt as to whether the Russian arsenal is even usable at this point, because of this requirement.



[ Parent ]
Refurbishing nukes (4.66 / 6) (#136)
by localroger on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 08:53:24 AM EST

Warheads in missile silos have to be removed regularly and 'refreshed' - they disassemble the warhead, remove the fissible material, spin it in a centrefuge to remove the portion that has turned to lead, then add fresh material and rebuild the warhead.

This is technically incorrect. Enriched Uranium and Plutonium are stable enough to remain fissile for centuries.

The reason modern weapons must be serviced periodically is that they don't rely entirely on fission fuel. "Miniaturized" weapons and H-bombs require Tritium to speed up the reaction, and Tritium has a short half-life. Tritium is a gas, so replacing it is not quite as dramatic an operation as melting and re-enriching the entire core.

Older bombs such as Fat Man also relied on initiators that used short-lived isotopes Polonium and Beryllium.

It would be quite possible to build a Fat Man style bomb with a modern vacuum tube style initiator that would have a shelf life of many decades, but it would have a low yield and be hard to deliver compared to the weapons we actually deploy.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Thanks (4.00 / 1) (#145)
by Arker on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 12:12:06 PM EST

Fact-checked again (sorry, been too long since I researched this, memory farted) and it seems you're right, it's not the actual Uranium/Plutonium that degrades so fast, but the initiators. Interesting. Still damn hard to make enriched weapons-grade materials, and from what I've read nearly impossible to get the stuff to go off without them - I did say nearly. But I do think the original poster was vastly underestimating the difficulty involved in putting one of these things together and actually getting it to go off.



[ Parent ]
much more difficult than demolition (none / 0) (#170)
by mingofmongo on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 03:24:53 PM EST

The difference between explosive demolition and using explosives to detonate a nulear weapon, is similar to the differance between taking off, and landing a helicopter -- when you take off, you have the whole sky to aim for, coming down you have to hit that little circle with the 'H' in it.

Detonating a nuke requires doing extreamly precise and carefully timed work with traditionally imprecise tools. It is very easy to say "shaped charge" but very difficult to create one in the shape you need. Creating an implosion with charges on the outside sounds like a simple thing, but getting the timing right so that the nuclear material goes off rather than just melting down, is a freakishly difficult project. That was the hardest part of the manhattan project.

The main structure of a bomb is not hard at all, and any cooling systems and most of the controls are not beyond the power of many highschool kids I've met. It's the detonation timing thing that takes some super bad-ass, multi-discipline, pimp-tastic engineering.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

Harder than a hand grenade. (none / 0) (#159)
by lugumbashi on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 12:21:12 PM EST

Building a nuclear (fission) weapon is much harder than building a hand grenade.

Everyone thinks they know how to make an A-bomb, just put a critical mass together right? Not so fast. Say for example you put your material into a ball and put explosives all around it. The common or garden "implosion weapon" You have to set all your external explosives off in total synchrony. If any one is off by a few nanoseconds ot if one piece of the explosive is a tiny bit bigger than the others, the ball will blow itself apart instead. Further more at the precise instant of implosion you have to inject a burst of high energy neutrons to start the process. Plus of course (as you mention) fissile material is not easy to come by, so if all you have is a few stolen kg you can't afford to waste any on testing. Without testing you can't really say you have a nuke.

It's really quite hard to make A bombs, you need experts in many areas and a large industrial complex to support them. Just as well really.

(Of course even if you made a weapon that went phut, you could still call it a dirty bomb and render a few blocks of a city radioactive without actually destroying it - create a great deal of panic for relatively little effort. According to Time, for a few weeks after 9/11 the Bush administration was convinced such a weapon had been smuggled into the US)
-"Guinness thaw tool in jew me dinner ouzel?"
[ Parent ]

a few small problems.... (3.00 / 4) (#99)
by codejack on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 02:09:52 PM EST

"the technology of war had actually changed very little in more than five thousand years." first, you seem to be saying that the advent of the longbow, the crossbow, catapults, the stirrup, etc, had no effect on war, which I believe to be demonstrably false. second, I believe you will find that advanced nations invade weaker ones far more often than the reverse, historically. "No sooner would a group of people finally manage to get it together with running water and toilets than a group of nomads would come sweeping out of the steppes of Asia and wreck it all. This happened time and time again throughout history. The nomads would win because surviving on the steppes of Asia made you one mean, tough sonofabitch. You had to already own your own horse, sword, and bow, and be damned good with them, otherwise you'd starve, and of course the people you were looking to give an ass-whupping to weren't any better equipped than you were. " I believe Rome managed to fend off invasions from both nomads and competing civilizations for at least 600 years, and an argument could be made for much longer. China also managed to prevent invasion; they built a 1500 mile long wall, you may have heard of it. "A gun isn't that much more complicated than a sword, especially if you already know how they're made. But it took a lot of infrastructure to make a lot of guns in a hurry. You've got to have forges, mills, chemical factories, and the kind of people that know how to run them, to do it. " I think you have this backwards; guns are much more complicated than swords, but the infrastructure to make them is not much greater. You need forges, mills, chemical factories, and the kind of people that know how to run them for both swords and guns, but making strong steel tubes (gun barrels) is much harder than making strong steel bars (swords). China had black powder for about 500 years, but couldn't figure out how to make guns, it was just too complicated (I realize there are other factors there, but you get the point). "All the tanks in the world won't do your fevered dreams of world conquest any good if the decadent, soft, patronizing peoples you are out to bring order and justice to can wipe you, your army, and your nation off the face of the earth in a matter of seconds." this seems to be the crux of your argument, that nuclear ability renders you immune to invasion, which i agree with, but this is a "stabilizing" situation only if everyone has nuclear weapons. The USA is effectively immune to invasion, but we are able to invade anyone who does not share that capability. "Building an H-bomb is hard. It's not something you can figure out just by going to a library. Nations that already know how to make them keep the secret very well. And the kind of government that puts a maniac in charge and keeps him there is not the kind of government that fosters the scientists and engineers you need to figure it out on your own. You need independent minds to do physics and engineering, and people that have independent thoughts are to dictators what guns are to drunk rednecks. " 1. yes, it is something you can figure out by going to a library, or just buy a copy of "The Anarchists' Cookbook." 2. Nations are notoriously bad at keeping nuclear secrets. 3. Germany in WWII was just behind us in nuclear capability, and in many ways, their technology was more advanced. 4. at least the USA limits maniacs to 8 years in office :D Effectively, you are arguing for detente, a stalemate, which would work if everyone had nuclear capability; however, how many Americans do you know whose main argument for foreign relations consists of "nuke 'em! they can't hurt us!"? our major efforts seem to be focused on making sure we can invade whoever we want, not stability.


Please read before posting.

Not really correct (3.50 / 2) (#102)
by Thrasymachus on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 02:50:40 PM EST

The Roman Legions got chopped up in Germany. The Great Wall didn't work, the hordes came over it like ants. And China and Rome were the empires. The exception not the rule. Smaller civilizations had more to fear.

The world has changed. Today there is no fear that the 'barbarians' will take over. The U.S. does not worry that much about war with Mexico. The greatest threats are from civilized societies. Quite a change.

[ Parent ]
wtf? (none / 0) (#154)
by codejack on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 09:32:33 PM EST

I'm not exactly sure what your point here is. anyway, here it goes; first, you made my point with the Romans, they were invading, and they also got chopped up the first time they invaded britain, and gaul, and persia, etc. second, how long did the empire of china last? 2000 years? 3000? yes, hordes made it over, occasionally even defeated the chinese armies, then were absorbed into the system when they found out they had no idea how to run it.
I am not arguing that the world hasn't changed, but that the idea of nuclear proliferation "stabilizing" the world is patently false; you seem to agree when you say that "The greatest threats are from civilized societies. " why not "stabilize" school violence by giving the biggest kids guns and body armor?
as for the barbarians taking over, my reading of the 2000 elections says they already have ;(


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
Which Chinese empire? (none / 0) (#178)
by mingofmongo on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:10:36 PM EST

Just because things don't change much doesn't mean there's political stability. China was in a constant state of war for thousands of years. The winners just weren't interested in altering things much when they won. Don't make the mistake of 'noble-izing' a culture just because it is far away.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

you missed the point (none / 0) (#182)
by codejack on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:51:33 PM EST

ok, in order then:
1. how else do you define stability other than "things not changing much"?
2. China was in a "state of war" about as much as anyone else at any given point in history (the Pax Romana, for example, simply meant that the battlefields usually weren't on the Italian peninsula)
3. "The winners just weren't interested in altering things much when they won." this isn't just wrong, it's an unsupportable simplification of China's "constant state of war for thousands of years"; i.e. if they didn't want to change anything, why were they fighting?!?!
4. I am not "'noble-izing'" any culture, IMO, "stable" is roughly equivalent to "dead," and i believe I expressed that opinion in an earlier post; however, inasmuch as world stability in history is one of the primary focii of this thread, I consider China to be an excellent example.
5. please, please, PLEASE stop using that one #^%@ing quote for every post! :D

"Surely there is no harm in taking care of the universe, for parts of it certainly seem to need it...if (as it appears) it delights in diversity, we should cast out fear and help it to be diverse, and learn to do so ourselves.... It is no guarantee of preferential treatment....
But we will at least know we acted with magnanimity and honor, and if the universe sometimes seems insensible to this, let us keep acting that way until it notices." - S'task


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
<P> Motherfucker! Do you speak it? [n/t] (3.50 / 4) (#103)
by RyoCokey on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 05:06:42 PM EST



The issue here is not the facts; Right - so how does this apply to Mr. Scott Ritter?
[
Parent ]
Building Bombs (4.25 / 4) (#101)
by Thrasymachus on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 02:44:24 PM EST

Hydrogen bombs are simple to make, so long as you have the correct materials. Basically, you use the properties of shaped explosives to create a really big explosion in the center. The easiest way is a donut of fissonable material, and a nice little plug of LiD that you ram into the center. Other ways involve setting off the equivalent of A-bombs all around a center of LiD.

The real hard part is getting the fissionable material. Plutonium can be got by using a nuclear reactor, but uranium has to be dug up and processed. If you don't have a large industrial base working on it, you have to steal it from somewhere. This is one of the reasons that Hussein has about the same chance of building a bomb as Libya. He has to steal the stuff just like them.

Which brings us the the other weapons misleadingly known as WMDs. Chemical weapons are, of course, less useful than bullets in practice, and missles don't deliver them well. Biologicals are unsuited to warfare. Anthrax and the like are very inefficent. The good biologicals are contagious diseases, but for that to work, they must have a long enough neutral period before symptoms appear to spread rapidly. This is not a weapon that can be contained. Therefore its only real use is a weapon of terror. Luckily, they are also incredibly hard to create, work with, and distribute.

Not quite so simple (4.75 / 4) (#110)
by localroger on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 07:20:18 PM EST

The trick in building a hydrogen bomb is building the fission trigger, which must be physically small and react very quickly. It is absolutely inconceivable that someone without experience building atom bombs, including tests, would be able to build a hydrogen bomb that would work the first time.

The problem is radiation coupling. In a hydrogen bomb, the blast of the fission trigger is not used; only the pulse of gamma rays, which flashes out ahead of the blast at the speed of light, is put to use. The gammas flash styrofoam into plasma, which (depending on who you read) either reradiates softer X-rays to illuminate or hydrodynamically compresses the cylindrical H-bomb stage. This compression is thousands of times more powerful than what could be achieved by using chemical explosives directly.

During this compression the bomb second stage "spark plug" of fissionable material must fission; the fusion fuel must burn to completion; and the neutrons from the fusion fuel must be captured by the depleted uranium tamper, fissioning it. All this has to happen completely before the fission trigger's blast wave arrives, microseconds behind the gamma pulse, and blows the secondary apart.

If this doesn't happen all in the right order, fusion fuel is wasted and U238 tamper goes unfissioned because there are no fusion-generated fast neutrons, and the yield of the bomb becomes little more than that of the trigger.

While anybody with the fission fuel and enough determination can make a fission bomb, making the trigger for an H-bomb requires careful optimization of a sort you're not going to manage without a lot of experience blowing holes in the desert.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

I agree (4.33 / 3) (#111)
by Thrasymachus on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 07:48:43 PM EST

You are correct. You need some experience with fission bombs in order to make a good design (though I'd imagine that overengineering the whole thing like the U.S. did with our first fusion bomb would work too). But the article claimed that it was too hard for countries ruled by dictators to do. I disagreed with that. While it is very complex, the science is now well-understood. It is hard but doable.

[ Parent ]
Information in the public domain? (none / 0) (#189)
by hughk on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 03:46:38 AM EST

In my understanding, the principles of making a fission bomb are well understood - it comes down to procureing the fissionable material at the right purity an engineering problem of how make sure the pit compresses evenly.

Yes, a thermonuclear warhead is more difficult, but many of the details of this are also now documented, even down to the placement of the 'plug' and pit. Details such as the amount of styrofoam to use are not so well documented, but it is doable.

Making a bomb is easy, as long as you can deliver it by truck or ship. Making a warhead that can be dropped or flown is very hard. However, that part of the world has already shown that humans don't mind being part of the weapon and be destroyed when it detonates.

What is helpful is that making fissile material takes a lot of time and money as well as a lot of technology. Luckily. none of the protagonists seems to have been able to short cut this by purchasing the materials.

OTOH, it has been proved that you can make a bomb out of impure materials such as waste from fast breeders. However, such a bomb would be ineffecient and not easy to make into a deliverable package.

[ Parent ]

Iraqi isotope separation programs (4.66 / 3) (#130)
by pde on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 05:05:11 AM EST

The real hard part is getting the fissionable material. Plutonium can be got by using a nuclear reactor, but uranium has to be dug up and processed. If you don't have a large industrial base working on it, you have to steal it from somewhere. This is one of the reasons that Hussein has about the same chance of building a bomb as Libya. He has to steal the stuff just like them.

This wasn't the case in the past. Before the war in 1991, Iraq had a huge isotope separation program. Given those resources, it'd be pretty amazing if they hadn't possessed at least a few deliverable nukes.

I haven't heard any serious claims that they've reproduced much of that infrastructure, though.

Visit Computerbank, a GNU/Linux based charity
[ Parent ]

I didn't want to bring it up but you made me. (4.25 / 4) (#107)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 06:43:58 PM EST

The events of September 11 illustrate what is wrong with dscottj's arguement. The more powerful nations are not invincible. Our society has vunerablities which can be exploited. A large industrial society is more complex, and in many ways not as robust as a primitive society.

I don't claim to be an expert in history, but during the revolutionary war, the U.S. used guerrilla tactics to defeat the British. A simple change of the rules went a long way towards undoing an the British advantage. In the same way, terrorism (regardless of your feelings about it) goes a long way towards undoing the U.S.'s advantage. They can't beat us in conventional warfare, so they'll try something else.

As I mentioned elsewhere, it's like Machiavelli said, there's no defense against a man who will trade his life for yours. Our weapons, nuclear or otherwise, mean nothing to suicide bombers.

I think there are still answers. Wars are almost always fought over resources. Instead of improving military technology, we need to develop technology to do more on less resources. In other words, develop technology to eliminate poverty. Hungry people are want war. Well fed people like the status quo and peace. That's the real reason first world countries don't fight each other. Why give Israel billions of dollars a year when we could almost definitely make fuel cells with that amount of money?

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

Not so (4.50 / 2) (#113)
by Nelziq on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 10:15:49 PM EST

The events of September 11 illustrate what is wrong with dscottj's arguement. The more powerful nations are not invincible. Our society has vunerablities which can be exploited.

Despite the intense drama of sept11, in reality our country's survival was in no way threatened. Even if there were enough terrorists out there that wanted to try something like that ever single month or every single year, our country would hardly crumble and blow away in the wind. The reason that it is called terrorism is that its main effect is for scaring people, not for actually killing/destroying. This shows that even the very worst things that our enemies could do are only symbolic.

A large industrial society is more complex, and in many ways not as robust as a primitive society.

This is completely false. Industrial modern societies are VASTLY more robust than primitive societies.

[ Parent ]

I disagree, but not for the reasons you'd think... (none / 0) (#155)
by kcbrown on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 12:36:45 AM EST

Despite the intense drama of sept11, in reality our country's survival was in no way threatened. Even if there were enough terrorists out there that wanted to try something like that ever single month or every single year, our country would hardly crumble and blow away in the wind.
This is true, but you're looking in the wrong place.

The terrorist attacks have no hope of directly destroying us. Instead, what they've done is caused us to start destroying ourselves.

We're at this very moment throwing away the very things that have made us strong: freedom, self-determination, independent thought, rational decision making, etc. We're replacing them with oppression, group-think, and irrational saber-rattling.

And we're doing it in response to the terrorist attacks.

These changes to the fundamental underpinnings of this country (the U.S., for those who haven't figured it out already) will either destroy it or transform the entire world into a malevolent police state. I'm betting on the latter.

And if you don't think the threat of police statehood is real, you'd better read this first.

[ Parent ]

I agree (none / 0) (#186)
by Nelziq on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 07:43:46 PM EST

I totally agree with you. The whole reason I bring up the point is to convince people of exactly what you are saying: Terrorists won't undo this country. Only how we choose to respond to terrorism can undo this country.

If we choose to respond to terrorism by becoming a new benevolent force in the international community and reviving our commitmant to the ideals of liberal democracy, socialism, and free market capitalism both at home and around the world then we will be stonger than we ever were.

If we choose to respond by sacrificing our liberties for security (ben franklin says weould deserve neither) and become an international bully then we will se our influence fade both culturally and politically.

[ Parent ]

When vastly more people can program a computer (none / 0) (#175)
by mingofmongo on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:01:03 PM EST

than can grind a crankshaft, I do think there is a serious worry about the robustness of a society. But that doesn't have anything to do with weapons large or small, or misguided fundies and their newly developed pilot skills.

September 11th, we lost about 5000 people, out of 270 million. That isn't really a society-collapsing event. Sad, but not the begining of the end.

I think that in the short term, western society is far too stable for it's own good.

"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

fuelcells needs oil (none / 0) (#162)
by lean on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 12:48:40 PM EST

Fuellcells is just a way to get clean air in cities. You still need powerplants to make the hydrogen.
'I think you caught me in a contradiction there.'
[ Parent ]
Go nuclear... (none / 0) (#215)
by rtechie on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:46:30 PM EST

Fuellcells is just a way to get clean air in cities. You still need powerplants to make the hydrogen.

Crack water using energy from nuclear power plants. The USA has plenty of uranium mines.

[ Parent ]

Further Reading about Nuclear Weapons (4.75 / 4) (#112)
by Kaos on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 10:15:09 PM EST

A terrifying topic but in some respects an interesting one.

Building a workable bomb isn't that hard, building a system you can use in combat is, but if you are a fanatic safety & reliability issues aren't high on your list of concerns.

Here are a few things worth reading.

Nuclear Weapons FAQ
The High Energy Weapons Archive
The Federation Of American Scientists Special Weapons Primer

Be wary of strong drink, it can make you shoot at tax collectors and miss.

Perhaps you'd be interested in the theory of... (2.50 / 2) (#120)
by fenster blick on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 11:11:11 PM EST

Perhaps you'd be interested in reading about the stability-instability paradox. A google search should yield some interesting websites.


Orwell (3.66 / 3) (#123)
by squidinkcalligraphy on Sat Oct 12, 2002 at 11:44:45 PM EST

Reminds me of an essay George Orwell wrote in the fifties; basically that the dominant weapon of an era determines the level of democracy (or more correctly freedom). If the dominant weapon is reasonably available, every Joe Blow gets one, and has a chance to fight. If the dominant weapon requires a lot of money/infrastructure, the power is vested in the small group of people in control of said weapon.
An identity card is better that no identity at all
We are fighting for our lives! (1.50 / 8) (#127)
by Peter Johnson on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 03:01:04 AM EST

<a href="http://crimethinc.com/fighting/sample.html">GO HERE TO READ A PAMPHLET CALLED "FIGHTING FOR OUR LIVES", AND ORDER COPIES (FOR NO COST!)</a>

WE NEED WORLD REVOLUTION FOR ALL THE OPPRESSED!

The current revolutionary process navigated from the underground. Will in the coming years replace the capitalist structure by destroying it completely and eliminating it for always, wages, money, crime, etc. This time capitalism will not survive.
Why, because capitalism has brought tragedy and catastrophe to most of the inhabitant of the planet. The Romans then the USA today, Napolion then Israel now.
Where capitalism ends Anarchy begins. Capitalism is killing the planet and humanity. Capitalism is killing the individual and torturing him into total despair and alienation,
On the contrary Anarchy will give the planet and the humanity back its life and dignity, given it back its beauty and freedom.
Anarchy will save the individual and give him back his identity and self-determination.
The states and governments, i.e. class society - a form of modern slavery institution - for the management of the human labor, exploitation.

Dear Sir, (2.50 / 2) (#131)
by greenshift on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 06:13:53 AM EST

You wacky Crimethinc-ers.

"capitalism has brought tragedy and catastrophe"

Oh yes, that's right.  The tragedy and catastrophe of making the car you drive, the computers and Internet Crimethinc uses to disseminate it's message, the clothes on your back, etc.  Oh the many sufferings people have been dealt because of capitalism!

"Capitalism is killing the individual"

Quite the contrary, you silly silly man.  Capitalism lets the individual strive to meet his own goals for his own ends.  Statism and near-fascist fundamentalism kills the individual.

"The states and governments, i.e. class society - a form of modern slavery institution - for the management of the human labor, exploitation."

Why can't you see that modern government intervention is an abomination of capitalism?  Free-market capitalism ("anarcho-capitalism" may be a more appealing term to you) requires businesses to not get bailouts from Congress, to not dump pollutants into government-owned lands, etc.

Your beef should lie with the ever-extending power of the state and overly materialistic twits that have no culture.  Not capitalism.


[ Parent ]

Seriously, Peter, when did you become a nutcase? (4.66 / 3) (#134)
by it certainly is on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 07:37:52 AM EST

Are you just mocking radical socialism, or have you fallen for its seductive trappings? Did Chloedancer make you do it?

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

I'm really hoping this is a different peter (4.00 / 2) (#137)
by bc on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 09:40:55 AM EST

The Peter I know is a republican gun nut poet. I don't know who this is. Perhaps our peter is Peter Johnsttone? Who knows.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]
Wasn't he the first Tim to play for the huns? (4.33 / 3) (#138)
by it certainly is on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 10:27:51 AM EST

Oh, that was Mo Johnstone. Never mind. Perhaps our Peter is Joseph Johnson speaking in St Peter's fields?

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

The evil Mo Johnstone (4.00 / 2) (#140)
by bc on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 10:44:22 AM EST

He who brought down the fall of Rangers from a great team that could stand in Ibrox and trace it's visceral identity back to William of Orange himself, that invader of the blue fields bringing papist ambitions and opening the floodgates to a myriad of players from the peninsula of papistry itself. That downright dirty bastard had better not be anywhere near kuro5hin! He's destroyed enough traditions and communities, he'd soon destroy this blue website too.

Personally I have hopes that Jim Baxter is still alive and posting to kuro5hin. He'd have much to say on the current international crisis, like the shambles against Iceland. And he's no imposer of papistry and lies, he's a man who believes in free speech and the right to self assembly, like me.

The colour scheme of kuro5hin is thankfully iniquitous to bigots and freedom haters wearing green&white, in the afterlife or otherwise.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

So (3.50 / 2) (#141)
by bc on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 10:52:41 AM EST

Why do you think anarchy is in any way opposed to capitalism? That's the whole point, you fool - it's anarchy, people are sovereign individuals and if they wish to trade (and they most certainly will) nothing you can do short of massive coercion can stop them.

Wait, I know - you are one of these laughable "left anarchists" who has curious notions of property and thinks he can impose these views on everyone and yet still call the result an "anarchy". Whatever, brother.

Perhaps if you realised the market functions best and is inherently opposed to interfering states then you would see the error of your ways.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Property doesn't exist under anarchy. (none / 0) (#157)
by zakalwe on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 11:49:25 AM EST

Wait, I know - you are one of these laughable "left anarchists" who has curious notions of property and thinks he can impose these views on everyone and yet still call the result an "anarchy". Whatever, brother.
Surely if its anarchy then there is no notion of property. If no law stops me from taking your posessions then its hard to see how trade would work. Most 'right' anarchys are really minarchys, or anarchy with strongly enforced societal customs, differing from laws only in name.

[ Parent ]
Assumption (none / 0) (#161)
by bc on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 12:36:30 PM EST

of yours is that the notion of "anarchy" has anything to do with the notion of law. You don't need the state for law.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]
Under anarchy, my property exists. (5.00 / 1) (#174)
by mingofmongo on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 04:47:37 PM EST


"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

AnarchoCapitalism = (none / 0) (#190)
by Kropotnik on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 07:51:18 AM EST

Anarchy for the rich and oppression for everyone else.

Wait, I know - you are one of these laughable "right anarchists" who has curious notions of property and thinks he can impose these views on everyone and yet still call the result an "anarchy".

Anarchism means without authority or hierachy, and so is impossible under a hierachichal and authoritarian system like capitalism.

[ Parent ]
At least check your links, you anarchist troll n/t (none / 0) (#164)
by shftleft on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 01:07:18 PM EST



[ Parent ]
argument against "ad hominem" (none / 0) (#181)
by codejack on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:28:50 PM EST

this posting just goes to show that you can find a fool in any cause. being somewhat leftist/socialist/anarchist/pinko/commy/any-other-mccarthyite-slander-you-can-th ink-of myself, I would like to distance myself from this person, as he obviously has no clue what he is talking about; either that, or he is making fun of liberals :D

the only cogent point in the whole rant is about eliminating crime; in other words, if there is no government, there are no laws, so there is no crime. this is an example of incomplete logic; it is entirely correct, and absolutely wrong.


"Anarchy is the least stable of social structures. It falls apart at a touch." -Larry Niven


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
Identity theft isn't nice (2.50 / 2) (#188)
by Jesus Christ on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 09:14:46 PM EST

You should email shoeboy@adequacy.org and give him the account.

Your elder brother,
JC

[ Parent ]

Hypocrite. [n/t] (none / 0) (#193)
by it certainly is on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 01:41:04 PM EST



kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Blessed are the hypocrites (none / 0) (#196)
by Jesus Christ on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 04:37:43 PM EST

For they shall know how to behave in social situations.
JC

[ Parent ]
Simplistic History (5.00 / 1) (#148)
by Viktor Pyke on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 02:50:57 PM EST

There have been many instances of technology giving an overwhealming advantage to those possessing it (Greek fire, etc). Virtually all such advantages lasted far longer than the decades that MAD has presumably worked.

I say 'presumably' because there were plenty of other good reasons for the US/USSR to avoid a direct confrontation than simply mutually avoiding destruction.

However, here's a thought experiment that shows how stupid MAD is: If you, as president of the US, received news of a massive nuclear strike on its way, of what possible use would it be to launch a counter-attack?

Clearly such a counter-attack would not have a deterrent effect or save any American lives, but merely would be a futile gesture of revenge. But, as you won't around to gloat, what's the point of that?

So, your rational response would to do nothing; after all, posterity would forever smile on your wisdom not to add to the slaughter of innocents. That is, your identity as an American would be best served by acting in the interests of humanity at large.

And this lesson would not be lost on the rest of the world; in the end, what which is essentially American would prevail. As a (soon-to-be-dead) American, this thought would be of more comfort than to simply follow through with a strategy that didn't work. Not retaliating, in the final analysis, would be the only and surest way to project our values into the future.

interesting, but you misunderstand the relevancy. (none / 0) (#156)
by Ward57 on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 11:32:35 AM EST

America's nuclear planning deliberately leaves time for the president to have an attack of concience and refuse to lauch the attack. In times of high tension in the past, this has not always been the case. Under Regan, submarine crews had final responsibility for making the descision whether to counterstrike or not.
The will to fight of soft, western, democracies has been underestimated before.

Okay, in a world in which a large number of nations have nuclear weapons, I'm slightly terrified that there would be no credible threat of a counterstrike.

[ Parent ]
Nuclear winter (none / 0) (#168)
by Znork on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 03:05:09 PM EST

Considering that such an attack would have to be small enough to 'subjugate' rather than completely annihilate the US, retaliation would be a way to avoid the subjugation since it would have left the Soviet bloc unable to perform the subjugation.

If, on the other hand, it was a full scale annihilation attack... well, the subsequent nuclear winter falling upon the earth would guarantee that whatever three-legged glow-in-the-dark betentacled slimeblobs evolved after man would probably, once their archaeologists learned how to decode our writings, decide we were all morons. I dont think they'd care much for whatever values such a species had left after themselves, whatever faction had launched.

Frankly, retaliating would be a mercy to the enemy. The rest of us would have had to face starving to death in the dark while coughing up our irradiated cancerriddled lungs.

[ Parent ]

Excuse me??? (4.00 / 3) (#151)
by KaizerWill on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 04:10:29 PM EST

and I quote from the above article: "And modern democracies don't start wars."

umm,,, http://www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/10/11/iraq.us/index.html


You were there for that...

America's a republic, not a democracy (n/t). (none / 0) (#152)
by JChen on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 06:05:53 PM EST



Let us do as we say.
[ Parent ]
touchee. (none / 0) (#153)
by KaizerWill on Sun Oct 13, 2002 at 06:26:00 PM EST

damn my forgetfull brain.


You were there for that...
[ Parent ]
Republic != Democracy (none / 0) (#212)
by ymy on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 09:02:15 AM EST

Republic is a political system based on the principle and the concept of democracy.

Democracy is an abstract idea, republic is its realization.

[ Parent ]

Ergh (none / 0) (#201)
by br284 on Wed Oct 16, 2002 at 04:36:21 PM EST

The original quote is that modern capitalist democracies do not start wars against each other.

It says nothing of capitalist democracies starting wars against other types of gov'ts.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

Hard to know where to begin... (4.50 / 4) (#158)
by lugumbashi on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 11:54:49 AM EST

You argument is incorrect from start to finish. You say warfare hardly changed in 5000 years. What about the invention of iron weapons, chariots, military fortifications, siege engines, stirrups? Do you think Caesars conquest of Gaul happened because Caesar wanted to win more than the Celts? Somehow I think it had more to do with communication, organisation and sheer technological superiority of the Romans.

The principle thesis is also bogus, the US and the USSR almost started thermonuclear war more than once. After the Cuban missile crisis and similar events they woke up and installed channels of communication and other safeguards. Yeltsin was handed the nuclear briefcase in 1998 because the Norwegians launched a weather experiment (and they had got clearand from the Russians months in advance!). In 1997 General Lebed claimed up to 100 KGB "briefcase" nuclear bombs missing when he was asked investigate them. Do you really think the existence of these mini nukes adds to world stability and peace? (There is some doubt whether this claim is true or not. Nevertheless it was technically possible for the Soviet Union to develop them)

You state that "More importantly, as with guns before them, getting the stuff together to actually build these bombs has an annoying tendency to turn you into the kind of society that won't use them."

There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case. For a start the US fired two nuclear weapons at Japan. Don't give us warm fuzzy notions about the goodness of people. That is simply naieve. If one side has nuclear weapons and the other side do not, the other side will use them if it will satisfy their war aims. This is entirely disconnected from democracy. Among the most recent countries to develop nuclear weapons we must count Pakistan, Apartheid South Africa and North Korea. Democracy has nothing to do with the ability to develop this technology.

Nuclear weapons do not by themselves prevent wars. This will become obvious the next time an atomic bomb is let off in anger, which is pretty likely in my view sometime in the next 10 to 20 years.

Where will your thesis be then?
-"Guinness thaw tool in jew me dinner ouzel?"

Yes! (1.00 / 1) (#166)
by z84976 on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 01:21:24 PM EST

I was going to type up a response to this article, but you just saved me a lot of effort. One additional point I think you fail to make is that sometimes the "peace" afforded by having one overwhelmingly powerful force is not exactly held in high regard by the subjects of that force. It can be and over time I believe tends to become a repressive and subjugative peace (I'm thinking here of the Roman empire, the ancient Egyptian empire, the various ancient Chinese empires, and, if you subscribe to alarmist viewpoints, the forthcoming USian empire).

[ Parent ]
How many nukes used since the 40s? Alright then. (none / 0) (#169)
by mingofmongo on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 03:07:47 PM EST


"What they don't seem to get is that the key to living the good life is to avoid that brass ring like the fucking plague."
--The Onion
[ Parent ]

well? (2.00 / 1) (#177)
by codejack on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:08:56 PM EST

you didnt answer your own question. how many nukes have been used since the 1940's? France, i believe, still conducts nuclear test explosions in the south pacific, India just let off a few recently near Pakistan, etc. if you mean in anger, then the answer is; we don't know. unconfirmed reports of nuclear weapons being used in Korea and Viet Nam have been met with silence from the powers that be.

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. - Solomon Short


Please read before posting.

[ Parent ]
How to write a persuasive paper... (4.00 / 1) (#160)
by AlFrankenstein on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 12:27:21 PM EST

First off, I have never thought of nuclear weapons, or any weapons for that matter, as "stabilizing." Weapons are tools for killing. However the focus should not even be on whether weapons have changed, how to build an H-bomb, etc. The focus should be on those that use weapons. What makes them want to build and use them. Unlike most, I believe the world psyche can change, can evolve, but unfortunately human nature has not changed much in the last 5,000 years. I think changing the public attitudes about life, war, peace, what is right and wrong, etc takes consistent pressure and time, like geological mountain forming. As long as there are people of the disposition to be hateful, angry, and to use weapons, weapons will be used. It is arguable that these "nomads" become more of a threat, because they don't have the political considerations that a country does. If Osama had a nuclear bomb, is there any doubt that he would have used it? Nuclear bombs have been around almost 60 years. Is their any doubt that in a time span of say, 1,000 years that someone like him with the desire will be able to get lucky and obtain one? I don't think that the writer's position is one possible of defending, but the piece definitely didn't do anything to make me change my mind or answer my questions. The piece didn't take all considerations into account. And it seemed like the writer just gave a haphazard, semi-accurate, superficial history of weaponry and declared his point proven. It's not that easy to make a cogent argument.

Disagree (5.00 / 3) (#183)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 05:55:11 PM EST

I have to disagree on a number of points.

Firstly, the technology of warfare changed alot during the pre-firearm period... and those changes did have dramatic effects on the battlefield.

Secondly, numbers, leadership, morale, training, tactics, equipment, organization and logistics (which the Romans excelled at) were ALL criticaly important to millitary success.

The steppe barbarians usualy won (when they won) by swamping thier opponents with numbers rather then simply being "meaner sob's".

You also mischaracterize the degree to which "classical civilization" was damaged by invading nomads. Firstly, the invaders were often not entirely successfull. Usualy they were defeated and turned back at a certain point. Furthermore even where they were successfull, after a breif initial period of mayhem they often adopted the culture of the civilizations they conquered. It was a common saying that the Goths were more Roman then the Romans. Often times the "barbarians" had adopted these cultural values BEFORE they actualy invaded.

Significant portions of "classical civilization" survived throughout the Dark Ages. Remember also that the Eastern Empire (Byzantium) did not fall until the middle of the 1400's.

Furthermore, I would take issue with your characterization of the Middle Ages as unstable. Feudal Europe was a remarkably stable civilization. Sure, there were plenty of minor border conflicts... but these had little effect on the overall stability of society... compare that with the devesatation wrought by modern wars.

Compare Europe 1100-1200 A.D with Europe 1900-2000 A.D., I think that you will find the earlier period far more stable.

I also take issue with your characterization that "Each leap in technology meant it took fewer and fewer people to actually fight the war." . If you compare the numbers of combatants engaged at Agincourt (1415), Shiloh (1862) and Verdun(1916) I think you will find that the exact opposite to be true.... as technology progressed larger and larger forces became involved in conflicts.

I also take issue with your characterization that fire-arms made training somehow less relevent.

It indeed takes a great deal of training and experience to be combat effective with even modern fire-arms (let alone things like tanks, field artillery, jet fighters).

FireArms did represent a paradim shift on the battlefield and they did lessen the importance of INDIVIDUAL combat skill to some degree.

This was because:

A) A fire-arm equiped soldier was far cheaper to produce and support then a knight in full armor on a barded warhorse.

B) Early Fire-Arms (like longbows) were only effective in massed ranks.

C) Armor (and individual melee skill) were not proof against shot and shell. Meaning there was less payoff in having a few incredibly skilled individuals because thier chances of surviving were less.

However it most definately did not obviate the need for skill and training. Rather it stressed Unit training rather then individual prowess.

Well trained musketmen were incredibly important wheras poorly trained musketmen often even couldn't stand up to melee equiped foot troops (witness the performance of British Home Guard troops when facing charging Highland Clansmen during the Jacobite conflicts).

Under these conditions it was nations that could field larger numbers of well equiped, well trained troops that TENDED to be more succesfull.
Thus nations with better industrial bases (logistics) did TEND to win conflicts.

While I would say that this definately means that the chances of technology surving conflicts (and even being dramaticaly accelerated by them) was much greater however I don't see how that made the world any more stable. Rather I would say that the increased dependence on resources that industrialized societies required more then counteracted any stabilizing effects on society that technology itself promoted.

I also think history refutes your theory that totalitarian states are unable/unlikely to obtain Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Old U.S.S.R. had some very frightening weapon systems...and it was hardly a state that promoted "independent thinking".

While in the end, M.A.D did work... there certainly was considerable potential for it not to have.

In the case of the U.S.S.R., M.A.D. probably worked because they valued the perpetuation of thier own regime far more then they did the destruction of ours. I also believe that both sides had a very good understanding of how far each could push the envelope and get away with it. Those conditions are definately not true with all modern regimes.

Finally, it would be good to remember that while today Nuclear and Biological Weapons define Modern Millitary Powerhouses.... 80 years ago it was Tanks, Airplanes and Warships. Look at how many nations possess those today.

Nuclear and Biological proliferation will happen. I just hope that effective countermeasures can be developed before something truely disasterous happens.

Human nature probably made it inevitable that Nuclear Weapons were developed, but I would hardly call them "saving graces". Hopefully humanity will be practical and lucky enough to survive them.


oh, my thaco (5.00 / 2) (#199)
by christfokkar on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 06:40:19 PM EST

A) A fire-arm equiped soldier was far cheaper to produce and support then a knight in full armor on a barded warhorse

C) Armor (and individual melee skill) were not proof against shot and shell.

Hmmm....d20.  My THACO is a 16, the orc is wearing scale mail...fifty-fifty chances?

Crap, we forgot to do the timing segments again.  We are never going to get any good at this game...


[ Parent ]

D'oh, that is small *secret* LAB...n/t (3.00 / 1) (#185)
by libertine on Mon Oct 14, 2002 at 07:16:47 PM EST




"Live for lust. Lust for life."
Modern Democracies don't start wars? (4.00 / 1) (#192)
by LilDebbie on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 11:07:02 AM EST

What about this pre-emptive action the Bush administration is so gung-ho about? Or do you not consider America to be a modern democracy?

Just giving you crap. You have an interesting thesis. Though it still requires some feather dusting in places (the juxtaposition of your seventh and eighth paragraphs doesn't make a whole lot of sense), the central idea is a firm one. If this is just a k5 post, great article, if this is the introduction to your doctoral thesis though, work on it.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

No Worries (none / 0) (#194)
by dscottj on Tue Oct 15, 2002 at 01:44:14 PM EST

Actually, it's rougher than I wanted it to be. Kuro5hin switched it out of editorial mode before I was done with it. About half the comments it's gotten directly relate to it not really being finished. Gah.

And no, not a doctoral thesis. Not for you monkies anyway. :)

AMCGLTD.COM -- Where cats, science fiction, and anger come together!
[ Parent ]

strange idea...... (none / 0) (#203)
by Niha on Thu Oct 17, 2002 at 05:55:15 AM EST

I´ve heard before this idea of weapons as agents of stability and pace,but somehow,it feels strange and uncomfortable, and far many objections can be done (just read other comments).
  On the subject on war, I have to submit a T-shirt which said something like "what if there is a war and no one of us go there?"

Friedrich Dürrenmatt (none / 0) (#211)
by ymy on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 08:36:38 AM EST

The German writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990; known for such works as "Die Physiker" and "Der Besuch der alten Dame") developed a theory very similar to yours.

He basically claimed that the modern world exists solely because of the nuclear bomb, because it leads to a forced peaceful behavior of all parties involved since it can anticipate the equally devastating retaliation.

(BTW Duerrenmatt is a very interesting writer in general.)

Huh? (none / 0) (#213)
by rtechie on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:32:21 PM EST

Swords, bows, shields, horses, catapults, and fortresses were as familiar to the Babylonians as they were to the Hospitalier knights five thousand years later. Because everyone made and used the same weapons, war ended up being more about how badly you wanted to win. Tremendous instability was the natural result. Yeah, the Roman Empire, unstable as hell (this is despite the fact that it lasted hundreds of years). Or China. Your whole concept was flawed. Ancient empires lasted hundreds or even thousands of years. Do you know ANYTHING about ancient warfate? No sooner would a group of people finally manage to get it together with running water and toilets than a group of nomads would come sweeping out of the steppes of Asia and wreck it all. This happened time and time again throughout history. The nomads would win because surviving on the steppes of Asia made you one mean, tough sonofabitch. You had to already own your own horse, sword, and bow, and be damned good with them, otherwise you'd starve, and of course the people you were looking to give an ass-whupping to weren't any better equipped than you were. And we all know the Mongols conquered all of Europe... oh wait, they didn't! And, contrarty to your opintion, China actually BENEFITED GREATLY from Mongol conquest. The current borders of China were created by the Mongols, a unified Mongol empire acutally encouraged trade, etc. Your whole premise is flawed. Before firearms armies were relatively small and professional and generally only engeged each other in relatively limited conflict. For the most poit, the kind of mass destruction between huge armies where 100,000s or millions of people die (the US Civil War, WWI, WWII, etc.) simply didn't happen. People wanted to actually conquer terrirory and levy taxes and you can't do that if all the people are dead and you've vurned all their fields, no "total war" for the Mongols. In general, nations have been LESS stable since the introduction for eactly the reasons you state, it's much easier to put together an efferctive fighting force. Your claim that the civilizations that develop nuclear weapons will be reluctant to use them is uncompelling. The first nation to develop them (the USA) was the also the first one to deploy them, in short order. Since then the USA simply hasn't been involved in a major conflict. Neither have the Russians. Bush has seriously talked about using nukes preemptively against the Iraqis. It is inevitable that the USA will eventually use nukes again. While I agree with you that nuclear weapons have made most powerful industrial nations a bit gun shy, it is inevitable that the technology to produce them will become easier over time and that it will be easy for much smaller nations to get them. One of the small nations might think it's a good idea to attack his neighbors THEN he'll threaten to nuke the major powers if they interfere. (this is the scenario with Iraq that Bush talks about) It will be a bit like the USA vs. CCCP Cold War except it will be Everyone w/ nukes vs. Everyone else w/ nukes.

Huh? (none / 0) (#214)
by rtechie on Fri Oct 18, 2002 at 06:34:47 PM EST

Swords, bows, shields, horses, catapults, and fortresses were as familiar to the Babylonians as they were to the Hospitalier knights five thousand years later. Because everyone made and used the same weapons, war ended up being more about how badly you wanted to win. Tremendous instability was the natural result.

Yeah, the Roman Empire, unstable as hell (this is despite the fact that it lasted hundreds of years). Or China. Your whole concept was flawed. Ancient empires lasted hundreds or even thousands of years. Do you know ANYTHING about ancient warfate?

No sooner would a group of people finally manage to get it together with running water and toilets than a group of nomads would come sweeping out of the steppes of Asia and wreck it all. This happened time and time again throughout history. The nomads would win because surviving on the steppes of Asia made you one mean, tough sonofabitch. You had to already own your own horse, sword, and bow, and be damned good with them, otherwise you'd starve, and of course the people you were looking to give an ass-whupping to weren't any better equipped than you were.

And we all know the Mongols conquered all of Europe... oh wait, they didn't! And, contrarty to your opintion, China actually BENEFITED GREATLY from Mongol conquest. The current borders of China were created by the Mongols, a unified Mongol empire acutally encouraged trade, etc. Your whole premise is flawed. Before firearms armies were relatively small and professional and generally only engeged each other in relatively limited conflict. For the most poit, the kind of mass destruction between huge armies where 100,000s or millions of people die (the US Civil War, WWI, WWII, etc.) simply didn't happen. People wanted to actually conquer terrirory and levy taxes and you can't do that if all the people are dead and you've vurned all their fields, no "total war" for the Mongols. In general, nations have been LESS stable since the introduction for eactly the reasons you state, it's much easier to put together an efferctive fighting force.

Your claim that the civilizations that develop nuclear weapons will be reluctant to use them is uncompelling. The first nation to develop them (the USA) was the also the first one to deploy them, in short order. Since then the USA simply hasn't been involved in a major conflict. Neither have the Russians. Bush has seriously talked about using nukes preemptively against the Iraqis. It is inevitable that the USA will eventually use nukes again.

While I agree with you that nuclear weapons have made most powerful industrial nations a bit gun shy, it is inevitable that the technology to produce them will become easier over time and that it will be easy for much smaller nations to get them. Example: North Korea. One of the small nations might think it's a good idea to attack his neighbors THEN he'll threaten to nuke the major powers if they interfere. (this is the scenario with Iraq that Bush talks about) It will be a bit like the USA vs. CCCP Cold War except it will be Everyone w/ nukes vs. Everyone else w/ nukes.

the most important point (none / 0) (#216)
by Phantros on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 02:51:10 AM EST

You forgot the most important difference between nuclear weapons and other weapons: When you use a nuke the other guy loses but you don't gain. You can take territory with swords/guns, but once you use a nuke on a place, the territory is useless.

Nukes are a dead man's switch.

4Literature - 2,000 books online and Scoop to discuss them with

All in good time (none / 0) (#217)
by wonko on Sun Oct 20, 2002 at 06:09:52 PM EST

You can take territory with swords/guns, but once you use a nuke on a place, the territory is useless.

Try telling that to the people currently living happily and healthily in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Yes, radiation will make an area uninhabitable for a while (and maybe even a really, really long while), but in time it will be habitable again.



[ Parent ]
Doctor Strangelove | 218 comments (200 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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