STORIES and POETRY
Man Stands at the Crossroad and Contemplates Humankind Making
its Way Beyond the Cosmic Machine. Cecilia Bustamante
Literary works by leading poets and thinkers of the English world
The New Strategies of Modern WarriorsI
... one man's indifference to life or death can terrorize a thousand others; to be committed to death and to be committed to life are two things that do not admit comparison...
Exactly what our warriors of the third millenium are like? is still not clear, but I will try to define images they bring to mind. Our generation, which has lived to see the twentyfirst century, is witnessing new practices in the art of war,some born during the two world wars of the twentieth century and in the last two or three decades such "progress" has been made,that the traditional concepts and methods used to define the ars bellum from the times of antiquity on are now virtually extinct.
Formerly the art of war required the application of what was known as "military strategy", tactical thought implying comparative evaluation of different possibilities and knowledge of the political reality behind any war and the times in which it took place. It was, of course, well known to the warriors of all times that rebellion was the strategy of the conquered.
In the first war of the third millenium, now taking place, the crucial objective of defining the strategic power of the army did not fall to the person who declared the war, but to Donald Rumsfeld thus giving strategy a pecualiarly political tinge. What, in reality was an offensive, was made into a defensive move against insurgents. The civilian hawks in the Pentagon, were competing for power with the Department of State and the military. To my way of thinking this new mental and geographical configuration of power was both elusive and mercurial at the same time -, just as the warriors at Rumsfeld's command were both inexorable and mathematical.
There was, nevertheless, a long term plan for war in Iraq conceived by Harlan Ulman, well known as an intellectual in the field of defense, i.e. a specialist in war, one of whose students was Colin Powell. Ullman's project would call for high tech warfare that he referred to as rapid dominion followed by "shock and awe". Bearing in mind the specific time in which the process is taking place, we certainly admit that our generation, the one that that has survived beyond the twentieth century, is in a state of collective shock and awe at the methods dreamed up by Ullman and announced by Rumsfeld.
This new, modern warfare, is also known as "the transformational war" means more violence per minute, per second, than ever before. If you can scare the enemy to death, physical harm and destruction can be avoided on the path to victory. In theory fear of physical suffering and mass confusion in the population would suffice. Ullman is convinced that the United States can dominate the enemy by pure deterrance, simply by making it see its own vulnerability and "that we are invincible". This capacity to impose massive "shock and awe" makes us able to put out our adversary's lights - or turn them on again- at will, and thus make them see that they either cease and desist or risk complete annihilation.
It goes without saying, of course, that this intellectual for defense assumes he has carte blanche to use whatsoever arms he pleases to achieve the desired "shock and awe".
"Basically" it seems that Ullman's ideas have been considered serviceable by the Pentagon. Shock and awe over Baghdad meant eight hundred cruise missiles in the first two days or one every four minutes, day and night for 48 hours. Worthy of the Apocaplypse. Destruction of life as it it existed in Baghdad. And so said the horseman of CBS... we want them to desist. We do not want them to fight... and so we throw down their city. We get rid of their electricity and water supply and in two, three or four days they're physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted.
Ullman is convinced that this new Ars Bellum though he has not called it that, will work as effectively as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the effects of the atomic bomb must be achieved with resources available in the age of computers and cyberspace.
But will there be any future to anticipate if our new empire builders test and then use such methods? Anyone who disagrees might easily become a guinea pig of rapid dominion. Let's say North Korea doesn't follow U.S. orders, the answer's one or more "Trident" submarines with no less than two hundred and forty nuclear missiles. The aim of the new Ars Bellum, however is only to inspire fear... terror. Well they've succeeded, we're terrified at the whole idea just imagining that whole cities and thousands of people who are taking no part in any warfare might suddenly disappear. The result is globalization of terror. Our work is quite clear. For the good of our long term security all free nations must maintain the forces of democracy and justice that have started to transform the Middle East. Bush dixit.
It was a painful March 3, 2003 when we saw the attack on Baghdad on our television screens, however victory still eludes us, based as it is on military strategy. The key elements to be considered in this formula are the technological advances of the age of communication. Add to that that capitalisms need for global economic control tied as it is to social injustice and the appropriation and monopoly of global wealth. The constant need for markets is the spur. Power management has become one supreme, increasingly efficient commercial enterprise that aims to control or monopolize all natural and human resources on the planet. This part of the process is less than a century old, a mere speck of dust in the stream of history, but it is already on its way promising first selective, then indiscriminate general Armageddon.
Rumsfeld's group applied the tactics envisioned by Ullman in an effort that might have been designed with failure in mind. Factors employed resemble resources copied from past disasters: a cultural offensive was launched in the war against Iraq, one that placed on center stage throughout the world, discussion of the capacities, or lack thereof, of the the military commanders of the world's greatest power.
What took place was an invasion --no other term is appropriate-- and the result in a society such as Iraq's was exactly as was to be expected -- there was total disarticulation. The ancient art of war clearly stresses the need to ensure a constant flow of supplies and replacement of forces killed or wounded. The terms "Iraq" and "insurgency" have become synonyms, History has shown that such wars are lengthy and usually continue for between ten and thirty years. Military strategy in Iraq has definitely failed, yet Rumsfeld, who came to power in alliance with the country's present leaders, was chosen over Colin Powell as commander.
Tactics were at a standstill. A change in power seemed imminent, and that could be deleterous to the military on whose strategies victory must depend.
This new type of warfare is a continuous process, one that in practice incorporates a new way of thinking and a capacity for cultural expansion. Outside the United States only Israel is presently privy to these, since it too enjoys an impressive degree of high technology. Such an imbalance of power surely calls for a greater degree of analysis, occuring as it does at a time when the multi-cultural and multidimensional nature of world society as a whole is being stressed along with a concommitant desire to work toward the establishment of a more human universe.
Lest we become empty targets, devoid of reason, we must be aware of the new and future armies made up, as they are, of a new type of fighter. But let us also take note of words such as the following by Professor Manuel Castells on the digital revolution, free software, freedom of knowledge, and freedom of expression in society in the Age of Information:
Like all other processes of historic transformation, the information-age does not have to determine one unique course that human history is obliged to follow. Its consequences and characteristics depend on the power of those who benefit from each of the many options that present themselves to the human will.
Alas technocratic futurological ideology is trying to present the technological revolution as dictating one form and only one of possible social organization, and this is generally associated with market dictates and the process known as globalization. This implies that acceptance of the extraordinary nature of the current technological revolution is, essentially, accompanied by acceptance of the premise that science and technology, rationally employed, will solve humanty's main problems. Even if we admit that obstacles will exist in its development and diffusion, criticism of the uses of technology is commonly identified with a reactionary resistence to social change.
The ideology of "technological goodness" and that of a market oriented globalization, reinforce each other. In both cases, society itself, as an autonomous process of decision making that benefits the interests and well being of its members disappears, and is replaced by submission to the external (abstract) forces of "The Market" and "Technology"1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cecilia Bustamante is a Peruvian-American poet and essayist. Read some of her poems, Click here
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