Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Better killing through technology

Today Bush gave the commencement address at the United States Air Force Academy.

The speech was interesting for its theme of the ways in which “revolutionary advances in technology are transforming warfare.” See if this version of the last six years accord with your memory of that period: “With this military technology, we can now target a regime without targeting an entire nation. We’ve removed two cruel regimes in weeks instead of years.” And then we all lived happily ever after.

And future wars will be even neater: “with these advances, we can work toward this noble goal: defeating the enemies of freedom while sparing the lives of many more innocent people -- which creates another opportunity, and that is, by making war more precise, we can make war less likely. For hostile dictators, it is a powerful deterrent to know that America is willing and able to target their regimes directly. When rulers know we can strike their regime while sparing their populations, they realize they cannot hide behind the innocent -- and that means they are less likely to start conflicts in the first place.” Less likely... to start... oh, my poor head.

Our enemies, however, will not use our super-keen, super-clean hi-tech warfare, scum that they are, but will engage in the bad kind of warfare: asymmetric warfare. Remember: in our wars, any suffering of the innocent is caused only by the other side. “They take advantage of the information age and the 24-hour news cycles, creating images of chaos and suffering for the cameras, in the hope that these images will horrify the American people and undermine resolve and morale here at home.” They don’t know us very well, do they?

“Another challenge in this new and unprecedented era is defining success. In the past, that was relatively easy to do. There were public surrenders, a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship, victory parades in American cities. Today, when the war continues after the regime has fallen, the definition of success is more complicated. So in Iraq and Afghanistan, we set a clear definition of success: Success will come when al Qaida has no safe haven in those countries and the people can protect themselves from terror. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are economically viable. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies that govern themselves effectively and respond to the will of their people. Success will come when Iraq and Afghanistan are strong and capable allies on the war on terror.” Er, George, “clear definition”? There isn’t one of those criteria that isn’t entirely subjective.

(Update: more pictures in the next post)

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