An Honorable Man

In my recent post, Obama’s Wars, A Book Report,   I commented on the contributions of

Official portrait of United States Secretary o...

Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, via Wikipedia

various top officials, including Thomas E. Gates, the Secretary of Defense.  In the context of passionate discussions over war strategies past, current and future, I said this about Gates:

Defense Secretary Gates presents as a surprisingly indecisive bureaucrat who routinely waited to see which way the president was leaning before venturing his own opinion.

Today I read an article about Gates in Parade Magazine that offers, at least to me, a possible explanation for his behavior during those discussions.  The article is an interview of Gates written by David Gergen, a smart man whom I consider markedly non-partisan.  “A Legacy of Leadership” describes a man with a deep sense of history and respect for his country and its military institutions.  These words in particular struck me as profound:

Gergen:  What do the next 10 years look like on the national-security front?

Gates:  . . . Yet after Iraq and Afghanistan, presidents will be loath to undertake preemptive war. Once a war starts, there is no controlling the outcome;  (emphasis mine) it ends up costing so much more in lives and money than anybody anticipated.

So, there sat Secretary Gates as the National Security Council debated the issues as the

A March 2009 meeting of the United States Nati...

NSC Meeting, Wikipedia

others sought answers to unanswerable questions.  “How did we get into this mess?  How do we deal with these unreliable allies?  How can we fight a guerilla war against religious fanatics halfway around the world?  How do we strike the bad guys dead without inflaming hatred among the Islamic populace?”  So, based on the above quote I will now guess, on my own responsibility, what Robert Gates was probably thinking:

 

Well, they’re in the stew now.  We are committed to the fray – there’s no going back once we are in it.  No matter what new strategy they all come up with, the important thing is that we actually have a strategy, one plan that we all eventually air to the public and the allies, and even more importantly, one that shows the troops that we do have a plan that makes some sense, one that’s not “forever war with no exit.”

It would serve little purpose for me to sit here and split hairs over just how we are going to do it because nobody has a crystal ball in this room.  We have the greatest and best-equipped fighting force in the world, an outstanding force of well-paid, volunteer young people and, regardless of the specific strategy we will get the job done just like we always have.  And when the battlefield changes, as it always does, we will adjust, just like we always have.  The important role for me here is to make sure they don’t do anything really stupid now that we’re in the soup, and then I must use my last year to carry out my mission as well as I can.

Read the article.  Secretary Robert Gates is a national treasure, in my opinion, and I for one am grateful for his service.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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15 Responses to An Honorable Man

  1. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    Oh my, as the sportscaster says.

    First, as I read your blog, you very much “put your words and thoughts into Gate’s mouth”. Again, oh my. That seems very political and dangerous to try to express his views, accurately, with YOUR words and sentiments.

    Woodward’s book simply relates the facts of what Gates did or said. There is little to explain why he chose to make the recommendations he provided and how he provided leadership within his organization after the President made his decision.

    The simple FACT is that Gates supported the uniformed military’s recommendations for troop increases (first 85,000 then lower to 40,000) and strategy (full up COIN followed by a “sort of ” COIN). Nothing that I have seen provides insight into how he then proceeded to lead the DOD in carrying out the President’s mandate. We must INFER what he did after Dec 2009, at least based on what we KNOW for sure about what has occured in Afghanistan after that date.

    In my OPINION what has happened post Dec 2009 has been a failure thus far with the greatest failure being one of leadership evidenced in the McChrystal fiasco. The battlefield commander is fired and there is little evidence that during his (McChrystal) tenure or for now four months subsequent to his firing there has been any improvement in Afghanistan.

    For almost a year now we have CONTINUED TO FAIL, militarily in Afghanistan. If you disagree with that OPINION of mine or can show FACTS to dispute such opinion then we change the discussion over Gates. But at least as far as Afghanistan, I believe that Gates as SECDEF has FAILED, just as Rumsfeld did in Iraq.

    Rumsfeld ultimately was fired so we can never know for sure if he could have ultimately succeeded in Iraq. Gates is “retiring” in a couple of months so who can ultimately defend or praise his leadership IN AFGHANISTAN, which seems to be the point of your blog herein.

    I DO give Gates credit for his attempts (non-publicly in most cases) to reign in defense spending in the future. Rumsfeld was going to try to do the same until 9/11 prevented such long term vision to be achieved. Only the future will determine if the direction Gates seems to be heading is correct, but I give him great credit for trying to “point the way” in that regard. I also give him great credit for carrying out Bush II’s orders to “surge” in Iraq. Gates and Petraeus both deserve high praise in that case in my OPINION.

    But in AFGHANISTAN we see certainly NO “heros of leadership” for now 9 years. Sure lot’s of individual heros within the ranks. But I refuse to give high praise to a SINGLE or group of government LEADERS for Afghanistan. Other than the initial onslaught in 2001 and early 2002 EVERYTHING we have done has been a failure or simply maintaining a modest status quo, which in itself is a failure, militarily. Military heros do not simply hold ground previously won, They ADVANCE until victory has been achieved geographically and politically.

    I certainly hope that that view of heroic or superb military leadership is not changed in this day of political correctness. We might tinker with the definition of victory, politically, but unless victory is achieved however it is defined, with minimum cost and loss of life to all, then forget high praise for anyone in positions of high leadership. Another OPINION.

    I believe Rumsfeld will wear his failure in Iraq around his neck in history. Thus far it seems to me Gates will bear the same burden for Afghanistan.

    Hard nosed, tough, unforgiving is such a view. Yes for sure. But is it at least stated with clarity as my opinion; yes for sure. How accurate is such opinion? Who knows? After all we all have our own, just like……

    One other point. You seem to praise both Gates and the President for “trying hard” to make sense out of Afghanistan. I agree they have both done so. But ultimate judgments of leadership MUST be based on outcomes, not intentions. Any man or woman can espouse popular even great vision. But it is what happens to implement that vision that counts as well as the lasting affect for our country of achieving any visionary goals. I see NO ONE in national leadership positions for the last ten years that qualify for such praise. And many in such postions deserve disparagment. Some I would simply “pass” in my judgment as the outcome that they direded was a “mixed bag” with some success and some failure. I would now put Petraeus in such a category unless he really pulls a rabbit out of the hat in Afghanistan which I believe is now impossible.

    Anson

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  2. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    After providing my views of Gate’s leadership I see that I missed the essential point of your blog stating that he is an honorable man. I DO agree with such sentiment just as I feel, thus far the same for the President and other men in high positions of government. Yes, they all seem honorable to me. Successful by my standards, not at all in most cases, but giving it their best shot, honorably, yes, I agree.

    anson

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  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    Anson,

    I am disappointed that my intent in this post didn’t come through better. I thought I made it clear that I don’t presume to know Gates’ mind. My motive was to air what I perceived as a possible reason for Gates’ behavior, behavior that seemed, to me at least, uncharacteristic of the man. But, I did indeed have a second purpose: to better understand the rationale behind the final decision on strategy.

    Anson, you seem to have a continuing theme, bordering on anger, that our failure so far in Afghanistan is due to timidity, and that a more aggressive approach is called for. Perhaps that is what you mean by Obama’s “poor leadership”? Perhaps you feel that he erred by not unleashing the full brunt of all of McCrystal’s firepower on every house and hamlet in the country? If it’s not that, then it’s a mystery to me. Are we back to the saluting thing again? If it is Obama’s lack of military experience, you might consider that very few politicians in Congress have ever served at all. Even Gates himself only served for 3 years as a 2nd (and maybe 1st) Lieutenant in the Air Force and spent that as an intelligence briefer.

    If that is a correct assessment of your opinion, then I respectfully disagree. As Gates said in the Gergen interview, “Once a war starts, there is no controlling the outcome . . . ” I interpret this to mean that he understands it isn’t as simple as using overwhelming force. So, If by failure of leadership you DO mean a failure to dramatically raise the body count, I seem to recall from Woodward’s book that most if not all of the Security Counsel believed that would solve nothing and simply inspire more guerilla recruits for the enemy. I would agree with them.

    I remember that in one post you advocated OBLITERATING any house from which active fire was coming without regard to “collateral” damage, and THE SAME FOR ANY VILLAGE. That would certainly be a more aggressive approach, but what would be the result? Because of public sentiment in Pakistan, President Zadori’s Pakistani government is already teetering on the edge of falling politically to the Taliban. Just look at the Pakistani reaction recently over the mistaken killing of two Pakistani troops near the Afghan border: the closing of a vital supply line for two weeks and the loss of dozens of supply tankers.

    Suppose Pakistan did fall to the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies? We then have nuclear missiles controlled by the Taliban. Whose leadership would you blame for that? (And please don’t tell me this is anything new. It’s been this way since the war started.)

    A defeated Afghanistan in smoking ruins and the Taliban with nukes? Sorry, not my definition of “success.”

    Jim

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  4. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    I DO NOT know how to win in Afghanistan. But I have seen now for nine years how NOT to win. We are undoubtedly the greatest military power in history, except perhaps ancient Rome. Our technology, speed, ability to maneuver, bravery and dedication of an all volunteer force are simply unique, in my view. NO ONE can stand against such military power today WHEN that military power is used effectively.

    So why the turmoil and inability to achieve our goals militarily. PURE POLITICS, nationally and internationally seems the clear answer to me. We have a “lock” on “other means” (see the trilogy). It is the politics that is lacking.

    Politics decides when to deploy military power and where to send it. Politics now decides HOW to use such power once committed. Did FDR make those decisions about “how”? No. He stuck to when and generally speaking where (first North Africa, then Italy and finally western Europe). Eisenhower and others decided the “how”.

    Vietanm, no way. McNamera decided “how” along with other civilian leaders. Iraq and Afghanistan, no way. Read the book of course. Gulf War, yes, in my view. Powell and Swartzkoff decided “how many” and “how” and won in a month with only 500 killed on our side.

    You and I both agree that we “went in” to Iraq and Afghanistan without first asking and answering the fundamental political questions. I believe (not sure about you) that the initial deployment of military power was superb in both countries. You can challenge the political leadership to “go in” at all but it is a real stretch to challenge the military leadership in initially doing so, a la General Franks, the only “heroic” military leadership I have seen in either war for now nine years.

    Petraeus pulled our short term feet out of the fire in Iraq and ultimate “victory or defeat” is TBD in Iraq. Bush II showed great courage in unleashing Petraeus as he did in Iraq in the face of great cries of outrage, including such cries from our current President. Just consider the consequences we might have right now in Iraq without the surge.

    I have now finished Operation Dark Heart. It is at best a mediocre book, a story of a rogue “spook” who ultimately had his intelligence career destroyed by DIA bureaucacy for divulging the story of Able Danger to the 9/11 Commission. AD was deployed two years before 9/11 to strike at the heart of Al Qaeda, again TWO YEARS before 9/11, during the Clinton years. It was “dead” when Bush II took office. Would it have worked? Who knows? BUT the details as described in the book would have made for an interesting public debate, which we never held. The story was “buried”.

    All of that is at the end of the book. Most of the book is descriptions of some successful “black ops” in Afghanistan in 2003, long ago. The implication is that such ops would have turned the tide in Afghanistan at that time IF allowed to be conducted in Pakistan as well. Again, who knows? Interesting stories but lacking in critical and strategic thought.

    One theme throughout the book is the lack of “fusion” of intelligence in 2003. CIA, DIA, Rangers (McChrystal is prominent in the book), SEALS, indigenous Afghan forces and “spys” etc are all tangled up with one another trying to “win” in their own rice bowls. Sound familiar?

    I admit that my blog on “blowing up the whole damn village” was an extreme reaction to the picture of the “woman with no nose” on the cover of TIME. I do not advocate a “burned earth” campaign in Afghanistan.

    But it is very clear to me that again for nine years in Afghanistan we:

    1. Are not clear against whom we are fighting
    2. How to fight against a yet to be defined enemy
    3. What exactly victory might look like

    If that is not a FAILURE of political leadership during a time of war, I guess I don’t understand what it would take to define both Bush II and Obama as failures in Afghanistan. Both had the “best” intentions for America. Yet neighter has even defined accurately, victory, much less come close to achieving it.

    I wish I knew the answers, but I do not have the responsibility nor authority to meet that responsibility. All I can do is point out the “facts” as I see them, call a spade a spade, as I “see it”, and hope for the best in the near future in Afghanistan.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Anson,

      You said,

      “Politics decides when to deploy military power and where to send it.  Politics now decides HOW to use such power once committed.”  

      Implication: Obama is acting like LBJ and McNamara in over-controlling the military. I respectfully disagree. During the NSC discussions Obama firmly stated his goal of exiting a war that appeared endless and repeatedly requested at least three options for a strategy that would do that. He got only one that was practical. At no time did I see him trying to micromanage the battlefield.

      We two are in complete agreement that the battlefield strategy and tactics in the Gulf and Iraq wars were outstandingly conceived and executed. I have never implied otherwise. The problem was the glaring omission of a plan for the “peace” afterward – again the 8 question issue.

      As far as Bush II’s “great courage” in unleashing Petraeus’ surge, I think that’s a stretch. Bush’s reputation in history was on the line as a hardliner. I have to question whether he seriously considered any other alternative, but I sure can’t prove it. It would have been interesting to have had another Woodward inside-view into those discussions, wouldn’t it? And, I have to note that the political outcome in Iraq is still in doubt. If Iraq ends up looking like another Iran, a definite possibility in my view, history will condemn the entire episode.

      Your report on Operation Dark Heart confirms the impression I got from the kindle summary. (Don’t know if you’re aware of it but Amazon appears to let you preview the first chapter.) And yes, competition among the various forces and services sure does sound familiar. We both know that and so does Robert Gates. To me this gives additional meaning to his statement about outcomes being unpredictable once the dogs of war are unleashed.

      IMHO, the fact that we still don’t have a political handle on the war (your 3 points) has more to do with events 9 years ago that what went on in 2008 and 2009. Once you commit to a war you are in the soup. Can you agree that, perhaps, just perhaps, given the “complication” of Pakistani nuclear weapons, there IS NO GOOD SOLUTION? Depressing, but that is my conclusion. (There wasn’t one in Vietnam either. An inglorious end to a war that would never have started had we asked and honestly answered the 8 questions during LBJ’s administration.)

      Jim
      Jim

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  5. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim

    First and foremost, THERE IS A BOOK, written by Woodward on ALL the internal administration’s (Bush II) deliberations leading up to the surge in Iraq. It is almost identical in theme and detail as Obama’s War’s on the internal events (some highly classified) related the surge.

    After all is said and done and after reading both books by Woodward my conclusions as far as Presidential leadership are as follows:

    1. Both Bush and Obama faced a “mess”. Both “messes” orgininated within the Bush administration and involved two wars with little progress to either “win” or find a way out. The similarities end at that point.
    2. Bush listened to a wide variety of views in 2007 related to Iraq. After all was said and done he unleashed Petraeus with a new strategy. Today we call it COIN. It worked or succeeded to the extent that combat as such in Iraq is now “over” at least for Americans. The achievement of “victory” is yet TBD. Recall the public and congressional controversy at the time over that decision (particularly from Obama)
    3. Almost the exact circumstances in Afghanistan in 2009, a “war” not going well and a nine month internal debate over what to do. Thus Woodward’s second book on very similiar discussions and issues. Now a year later we seem to still be stuck in the mud in Afghanistan. A year after Petraesu took command in Iraq the situation was much different.

    For sure Afghanistan and Iraq are different countries and different wars. No doubt what worked in Iraq may well not work in Afghanistan. You and many Americans seem to now think that “nothing will work” in Afghanistan. I am not so convinced but have no specific ideas how the “make SOMETHING work” in Afghanistan.

    So I see it as vast differences in LEADERSHIP at the Presidential level. Some may also call it LUCK. Clearly Obama’s decision, and no doubt it was HIS decision with many being dissatified with his choice (I still like the phrase “half-assed COIN) has NOT worked, at all. The McChrystal fiasco was akind to “mass resignations” that Obama feared in 2009. Only one general was fired in June 2010 but……

    Good intentions are great. But when good intentions do not WORK then something or someone must be accountable. In that sense the economic lack of recovery and Afghaistan are both a fundamental failure of leadership simply because the courses chosen by the President have not worked, at least so far.

    You seem to defend Gates and Obama for good intentions which I do not dispute. I only dispute the success of achieving their goals and try to hold them accountable.

    So here is a question for you. Who would you pick as someone that really made the RIGHT decision(s), carried those decisions forward successfully and achieved laudable goals for the good of the country economically and in both wars. In other words who stands tall based on “Mission Accomplished” since 2001 economically and militarily.

    I pick General Franks as such a man and leader. Whom would you pick? I would also pick Petraeus if Afghanistan was not part of his responsibility. But HE picked McChrystal as HIS commander in Afghanistan and now has that tiger by the tail on the ground (as opposed to in Tampa, FL) and thus is responsibile for the outcome or even progress in that place.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Anson,

      You got me good on Woodward’s past books and I appreciate the tip. I guess I was vaguely aware of them but not motivated enough to explore more deeply than newspaper coverage. Blogging has changed me. It has given me a reason to delve more deeply into all kinds of issues that I wasn’t motivated to explore before.

      I just reserved Woodward’s “State of Denial” at the library. Did you read that one? It’s supposed to be, according to Amazon.com, just what I was wishing for in the previous comment.

      Now then, you said:

      So here is a question for you. Who would you pick as someone that really made the RIGHT decision(s), carried those decisions forward successfully and achieved laudable goals for the good of the country economically and in both wars. In other words who stands tall based on “Mission Accomplished” since 2001 economically and militarily.

      My answer to your question is General Norman Schwartzkopf.

      Now, having said that, can you see the problem with the question? It invites comparing apples to oranges, and it begs of too many variables. Surely there is a fundamental difference between defining a political leader’s “success” and that of a military leader. Norman Schwartzkopf did a superb job in the Gulf War by anyone’s estimate – any American’s that is. But here’s the thing: He was given a mission with clear goals and all the tools to carry it out. In fact, that is the one war, as we discussed in my post, War, What If? War, What If? , that had at least 7 of the 8 Powell Doctrine questions answered in the affirmative.

      It seems unfair to me then to say, “Look here Obama, General Schwartzkopf really knows how to get things done. Why can’t you be like him, you knucklehead?” It’s too bad there isn’t a law that limits wars like Afghanistan to a definite beginning and end, as in the Gulf war. Then it would at least be easier to compare statesmen to Generals. Hey, wait a minute. What if we made the 8 questions a mandatory law and charged the Supreme Court with validating they had been answered in the affirmative before going to war? How’s that for an idea?

      Jim

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      • Jim Wheeler says:

        Well, I just re-read your question and realized you said “both” wars, so Norman wouldn’t fit. But I actually don’t see the point of defining it that narrowly, so I hope the rationale still makes sense to you.

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  6. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    thanks for the second and clarifying comment. I was ready to “launch” again. Actually the Gulf War had FOUR superb leaders in my view. Norman, Colin Powell, CHENEY, and Bush I. All four got it RIGHT and WON decisively (in about a month) and then got the hell out of “Dodge”, much to the screams of some NeoCons.

    But I find it very interesting that after NINE YEARS of wars neither of us, both with a military background, can pick a real “winner”, politically OR militarily. Forget “hero”, I’m not sure we have had any of those (in high leadership positions) since WWII.

    I also do not think you and/or I can “pick a winner” from our own Vietnam era. Truman MIGHT stand as such in Korea by firing Gen Mac and preventing the use of nuclear weapons against China.

    So at least four “wars” in 60 years and only one set of “winners” in the least demanding (militarily) and shortest “war”.

    So what might such an observation say about the absence of American political and military leadership for now 60 years and counting, at least as far as military engagements go? In my view we have had a political and military vacuum for a long time. I leave Reagan’s “victory” in the Cold War aside as we never actually engaged in combat in that long and difficult saga.

    60 years, four (at least) “wars”, no ticker tape parades, no sailors kissing nurses on the national scene, no victory celebrations, no nothing except stalemate, outright defeats and who knows in Iraq.

    I suppose I would also add the “yellow ribbons” from 1979 and the debacle of “Desert One” during the Carter years as grave defeats. JSOC is the military organizational response to “Desert One” and we have never had such a debacle since the formation of that organization and the training of the men (some of whom are true but unknown “heros”) that man it. But JSOC has yet to “win” anything at least at a national level and about which the public is “cleared” to really understand.

    Also, “no more 9/11’s” for now 9 years and counting may be a “victory” of sorts with JSOC bearing great but classified credit for such.

    So all of this begs the question, at least for me, has “war” so radically changed today such that “victory” is simply never achievable? Or instead is “war” still “war” (hell, politics my other means, etc) and we simply cannot or will not find a leader or group of such to execute “war”.

    Step back and view the really long “sweep of history” and show me any time where “war” fundamentally and irrevocably changed. To me, “war” reflects the human condition and that condition has changed very little since cavemen invaded or defended their “caves” long ago.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Anson,

      OK, here’s my stab at your interesting question, “Where in history has ‘war’ fundamentally and irrevocably changed?”

      1. Gunpowder. Invented in China and gradually introduced into warfare between the 15th and 18th centuries.
      2. Telegraph. Instant long-range communications first available.
      3. Machine gun. Gatling gun invented in 1861, devastating in WWI, mowing down soldiers and animals like wheat. Cue music, “Where have all the flowers gone, . . .”
      4. Radio. Versatility of long-range communications expanded exponentially.
      5. Submarine. First used effectively in WWI. A factor, along with the machine gun, in changing the Victorian view of the nature of military service to include stealth and “unfair” technological advantage. The armored tank might be viewed similarly. The explosion of technology in WWI, “the war to end all wars,” is often blamed for the isolationist mood of America prior to Pearl Harbor.
      6. Airplane. Again, WWI. Warfare at arm’s length, out of sight of the enemy (unless you were shot down and captured, of course)
      7. Radar. About 1941, invented in England. Distant detection possible for the first time.
      8. Nuclear bomb. 1945. Probably the greatest single instantaneous change in warfare in all of human history.
      6. ICBM. Soviet R7, August, 1957. Revolutionized the potential timing of nuclear war. Push-button war is born. With the birth of Mutual Assured Destruction, all-out war between nuclear powers is ended (at least so far).
      7. Spy satellites. 1960’s. Country’s abilities to operate in secret is seriously compromised, including communications.
      8. Stealth technology. 1960’s. Technological innovations, including sensors and computer-control of weapons are now a continuum of change.

      Having said all this, I recognize this context may differ from the intent of your question, Anson. Fundamentally, war always has been, as you say, the ultimate option after all else has failed. I think it is worth noting the paradox: technology, both in weapons systems and communications, has not only made war more powerful and effective, but actually easier to use against non-nuclear powers, surgically as they say, by heads of state. And the real bottom line: war means death, and always has. We agree on that for sure.

      Jim

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  7. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    In every case above you site TECHNOLOGY that allows military power to kill more people. Such technology has from time to time changed how wars are fought.

    But of course my questions goes to the FUNDAMENTAL issue of why humans wage war in the first place. People, through their governments, go to war to attack or defend that which they hold “dear” or “important”.

    In my view, despite the changes in technology that kill more people, the use by humans of WAR to achieve whatever they are trying to achieve has NEVER changed. In that case, Clauswitze’s statement “War is politics by other means” seems eternal to me, or at least eternal until we get rid of politics.

    Anson

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  8. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    Let me finally try to make my point with another approach. Name any society in history that has flourished in terms of improving the human condition within that society that has NOT HAD WARRIORS as an important element or “class” within that society? I can again, think of none that so existed historically.

    Then go one more step and try to envision a future society with NO warriors, volunteers or otherwise, that could exist and flourish for but a short period of time.

    Anson

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  9. Jim Wheeler says:

    Anson,

    I totally agree, human beings are bellicose by nature. Our species has been around for about 190,000 years, 98.4% of which is undocumented.

    A human being can’t take care of herself until she’s somewhere between 10 and 18 years old, so that requires a social support network. As hunter-gatherers for that huge undocumented period we existed in tribes that had to be the foundation of that social network. Tribes cooperated to achieve safety from wild animals, weather and, not least, other tribes. We humans are competitive warriors by our very nature.

    I contend that we still act tribally. It’s just that some of the tribes have gotten really big. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the only thing that saves us from destroying ourselves is fear of nuclear weapons?

    All you need for confirmation of this tribal theory, I submit, is to look at how bloggers act toward each other. 🙂

    Jim

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  10. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    Again, I agree. Blogs are usually nothing more or less than verbal spears, the first step towards disagreement, politically, and further down that path lurks Clauswitze.

    And no, I do not believe that any technology thus far produced will prevent the use of such technology in war at some point. For example consider Israel overrun by conventional armies of Islam with women and children being beheaded in the streets. I am not sure who was use nucs in retaliation first, Israel or “us”.

    Consider our own response if a Pakistani /Iranian/North Korean nuc was exploded in Washington, DC. The initial explosion perhaps arranged by a Muslim extremist would be the first step. Then what??

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