Wednesday, October 24, 2007

As a Christian

My church has a pulpit. above the pulpet is a cross. Behind the pulpet are two flags; an American flag and a Christian flag.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Donald Lives On

The only thing that we know for sure about the proposal by the Department of Defense to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site by hundreds of thousands, if not millions or acres is that we don't really know for sure what the DoD are up to. We don't know for sure how much land they really want. We don't know why they think they need more land on top of the 25 million acres they already have. And we don't really know what they intend to do with it. In spite of repeated requests, and now demands from congress, the DoD just won't tell us.

But by putting together fragments from blackened-out military documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA process, we can piece together a rough outline. And by peering hard through the fog of military buzz-words and acronyms, we can see the silhouetted form of the true agenda.

A year ago we were hearing one of those buzz-words a lot because it was the brain-child of the, then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfleld. The buzz-word was, "transformation." The term has pretty much disappeared from the media, replaced with another term which is unencumbered by Rumsfeld branding, "Revolution in Military Affairs. RMA."

"Transformation" went out of fashion with the political demise of its promoter, but Rumsfeld's vision lives on in the countless DoD appointees that survived him. While the term has pretty much disappeared from popular media, it still resides on countless military web sites and in their planning documents. Rumsfeld's grand scheme is rolling along like slow but invulnerable Abrams Tank, armour plated by BRAC, (Base Realignment and Closure) and NEPA, (National Environmental Policy Act), proceedures and exemptions.

For the intrepid few who have the volitional, high-top boots adequate to slog through hundreds of pages of Environmental Impact Statements, EIS, (written by, guess who, military contractors,) the clues are there. Just as a scatologist can, by the careful examination of partially digested fecal content, determine a creature's food source, so too can we discern in the well-masticated bone fragments of military documents, the DoDs original corpus.

One of the realities of the government is that, while political expediency can end the career of a cabinet member like Donald Rumsfled over night, the machinations of the federal bureaucracies grind on over the course of years and even decades. Rumsfeld is gone, but his vision for the transformation of the military lives on.

Another buzz-word to be found in the excrement is "future" as in "Future Force" and "Future Combat System."

The way to really understand Donald Rumsfeld's legacy, as it is embodied in the Defense Department's plan to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, is to look into the meanings of these terms.

Rumsfled's plan is to transform from Legacy Force to Future Force. We think of tank maneuvers being run on the Pinon Canyon site. But the reality will be Future Force Units of Action. The Army's manual for Training Ranges, TC-25 indicates a maneuver box of 150 kilometers for a Unit of Action, This is the amount of land indicated on a leaked Army map which expands Pinon Canyon all the way to the Kansas and Oklahoma borders.

The Transformation plan would transform the military from foot soldiers to robots.

It would transform the "war is hell" idea into "was is a game."

And it would transform the execution of war from something that is done by a voluteer army into something that is done by professional, mercenary, for-profit, military contractors like Blackwater.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dehumanization of Warfare

War has always been a dehumanizing reality. In order to kill other human beings it is necessary to redefine them as some other than, or less than human.

War dehumanizes the warrior as well. In order to act as an effective killing machine a warrior has to be stripped of his humanity, distanced, ethically and geographically from the brutality of his actions, exempted from moral responsibility. Our "support the troops" attitude reduces the young men and women to amoral automatons who have no responsibility, and therefor no capacity for making moral judgements.

Remote controlled weapons and Robots will further distance and in some cases completely eliminate the human element from warfare. UAVs and UGVs will be programmed to kill without any direct human participation. Only the far distant policy-maker and programmer will have anything to do with the actual killing.

This may seem like a good thing. Removing our soldiers from the danger zone.

While it an awful truth that human being commit atrocities in warfare, it is also true that only the presence of moral humans in the midst of warfare have prevented it from sinking into complete depravity.

The current generation of gamers have the skill set to wage war remotely. There is little difference between the virtual warfare engaged in by gamers on a daily basis and the digital representation of targets on a real military computer screen. In fact the real targets are less graphically precise, less "real" looking, more abstract and more dehumanized than the high definition pretend victims that gamers are so comfortable blowing away.

There is nothing new about indiscriminate, automated killing machines that are programmed to kill without any human presence. This has been the reality with land mines for a long time.