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The War Nerd September 19, 2002
 
Future War: Hi-Tech Toys vs. Fanged Vermin
By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 3
 
As the two-tier war system develops, the hi-tech nations won't even associate war with death any more. War will be a demolition derby: our machines beat your machines. Nobody has to die. When the dogfight between a Chinese and an American RPV finishes, nobody will die; the US controller will disconnect from his monitor and have a beer, and so will the Chinese.

Production dominance will tilt one way or the other, at last: you own the skies. They can't send up any more RPVs, and you can. OK; you've won. Now what? Do you start carpet bombing their cities? What the Hell for? The civilian population won't even matter any more. Kill a hundred million Chinese -- so what?

You want to assert control, though, prove you've won. Whaddaya do, send in troops? Chinese troops landing in Hawaii, or American troops landing on Amoy? It's real easy to see what happens next: the nukes come out, and everybody loses.

Oh wait, I forgot: we're gonna have a nuke-shield over us. Uh...yeah. Folks, as long as I'm debunking Sci-Fi bullshit, lemme tell ya the sad news: this nuke shield, it's what is technically called, in specialist language, "total bullshit." Nobody can be shielded from nukes. Not just because it's impossible to intercept an ICBM under real conditions (those tests? They were just plain faked, folks!), but because an ICBM isn't the only way to deliver a nuke.

I mean, just think for a minute. You're Mao. You hate the US, you have a few big ripe homemade nukes, and you want to be sure the Americans know they can't push you too far. Do you build ICBMs? Sure, a few -- enough to keep the Japanese and the Russians awake. But you don't really trust those homemade missiles. And -- this is kinda the key point, so lissen up here -- you don't need to. Because a regime like Mao's (or Stalin's or Kim Il Sung's) does one thing really, really well: spy stuff.

And if you've got a good spy service, delivering nukes is a cinch. A pickup truck is a perfectly effective way to deliver a nuke. How many pickup trucks cross from Canada or Mexico every year? Every day? You think every one of those gets searched? How many ships call at US ports every year? How many get really carefully searched? How hard is it to carry a nuke to an American harbor in a harmless-looking Liberian-registered cargo ship, then dump it over the side somewhere near the East River, or the Bay Bridge?

I used to know this drug dealer in Stockton, a really cool guy who'd been a Navy frogman. He put those skills to good use: he'd drop a watertight package of goodies just offshore, then dive back to pick it up once his ship had been searched and let in the harbor. Never failed, he said. If he could do it, you better believe Kim and Mao not only could do it, but HAVE done it.

And that means there are nukes lying in our harbors, and in longterm storage sheds, and cemented into the foundations of buildings in our downtowns. So no matter how much they bleat about their anti-missile systems, you better believe that the US will never, never be safe from nukes. And neither will any city that matters, in China or Japan or Russia or Europe.

That means there won't be any total wars of the good ol' WW II kind, except between little backward countries without nukes. So we'll have a two-tier system of wars: very cautious limited wars between the big players, and bloody messes between the savages, which will do little more than prune their exploding populations.

The civilized countries' wars will be great for using up surplus hardware. There'll be dead machines all over the landscape. But the casualty count for humans...well, it's very hard to predict that. Right now, it's looking low. Why bother killing a few million civilians? Won't settle anything. Just makes you look bad. In fact, nothing seems to be on the line anymore -- not people's lives, not even their jobs, no matter how much they fuck up.

The only enjoyable wars will be the mismatches, when the machine armies are unleashed on the savages. We've seen some of them lately: the NATO air forces working out on Serbia, the US and British planes playing with the Iraqis like a couple of kittens with a half-dead mouse. They're the wars people will enjoy, because the targets are so easy, so undefended, that there are lots of good gun-camera shots.


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Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
 
 
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