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Can we take war seriously anymore?

Hoplite

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The question is in the title, can we take war seriously anymore?

When we consider that virtually every aspect of any conflict the US is involved in that we see is engineered and packaged specially for us, can we really say we understand ANYTHING regarding modern war?

The current Iraq war is a good example. From the start of the war to "Mission Accomplished" there was an absolute cascade of events that were tailor made for media, from the "shock and awe" campaign to the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories. Many of these stories, we find later, were either mostly made up or dressed up for publicity.

On top of that, you have slanted images in the media regarding the "enemies" of the moment including popular entertainment.

Have we sort of lost sense of what war really is or does?
 

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War is what it has always been... tribes wanting more power, land, resources, etc. It's actually pretty basic. The window dressing has changed along with the tools we use to do it, but the fundamental behaviours are the same. So is the psychology of the concept behind "the enemy".

The best thing that educated people can do is look at their lives and decide if they are living the kind of life they want to; then they can examine what that kind of life really costs. I don't think most people in the current order are truly content, yet wars are waged to provide for them in this system that brings them more unhappiness. In a way, the misery makes it more easy to fight wars in the first place, since "the enemy" becomes a welcome distraction. The thing is, the wars themselves are not necessary in the first place. It's just a vicious cycle.

I hope some day science can find the gene that prompts humans to divide based on petty differences, and neutralizes it. The inability to control violent tendencies and unite differences is a primary reason why humans are not progressing toward a better way of being.
 

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The question is in the title, can we take war seriously anymore?

When we consider that virtually every aspect of any conflict the US is involved in that we see is engineered and packaged specially for us, can we really say we understand ANYTHING regarding modern war?

The current Iraq war is a good example. From the start of the war to "Mission Accomplished" there was an absolute cascade of events that were tailor made for media, from the "shock and awe" campaign to the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories. Many of these stories, we find later, were either mostly made up or dressed up for publicity.

On top of that, you have slanted images in the media regarding the "enemies" of the moment including popular entertainment.

Have we sort of lost sense of what war really is or does?


Have you studied how WW2 was propagandized? Nothing has changed. WW2 was a just war and a necessary one, and a serious one if ever there was such a war in modern times.... but it was still propagandized in the media, the enemy was painted in a very negative light, etc etc.

This is nothing new.
 

Hoplite

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Have you studied how WW2 was propagandized? Nothing has changed. WW2 was a just war and a necessary one, and a serious one if ever there was such a war in modern times.... but it was still propagandized in the media, the enemy was painted in a very negative light, etc etc.

This is nothing new.
I would say our way of presenting war is new where it's a TOTAL immersion experience for the people watching it.
 

Boo Radley

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Have you studied how WW2 was propagandized? Nothing has changed. WW2 was a just war and a necessary one, and a serious one if ever there was such a war in modern times.... but it was still propagandized in the media, the enemy was painted in a very negative light, etc etc.

This is nothing new.

That's true. And not much has changed. The PR firmed that help sell the first Gulf war borrowed heavily from WWII. But, should be as willing to be manipulated today as we were then? Or should we demand a little more honesty?
 

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The question is in the title, can we take war seriously anymore?

When we consider that virtually every aspect of any conflict the US is involved in that we see is engineered and packaged specially for us, can we really say we understand ANYTHING regarding modern war?

The current Iraq war is a good example. From the start of the war to "Mission Accomplished" there was an absolute cascade of events that were tailor made for media, from the "shock and awe" campaign to the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories. Many of these stories, we find later, were either mostly made up or dressed up for publicity.

On top of that, you have slanted images in the media regarding the "enemies" of the moment including popular entertainment.

Have we sort of lost sense of what war really is or does?

I think we have lost the sense of what war really is or does. Agreed. The last "real" war that I can muster support for is WWII. All the rest have been "fought" with rules of engagement so ridiculous as to be a game.

If war isn't for keeps, it doesn't deserve being fought. I'm tired of our pre-emptive strikes based on "what might happen." Time to, honestly? Let it happen first. Then no-holds-barred. Otherwise, I feel we are being duped.
 

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We can't take war seriously anymore. People treat war like a football game or a movie rather than a serious analysis of geo-politics. Its all about "our team winning" or abstract ethical arguments or some other emotional nonsense. The most crucial questions like "what is our plan" "how much is it going to cost" or even "what the hell are we trying to accomplish" don't get asked. Politically, the war simply becomes a wedge issue that people rally around without any understanding of its complexity.
 
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I think war stopped being serious when people stopped being comfortable with "civilian" casualties and decided that war needed rules.
 

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We can't take war seriously anymore. People treat war like a football game or a movie rather than a serious analysis of geo-politics. Its all about "our team winning" or abstract ethical arguments or some other emotional nonsense. The most crucial questions like "what is our plan" "how much is it going to cost" or even "what the hell are we trying to accomplish" don't get asked. Politically, the war simply becomes a wedge issue that people rally around without any understanding of its complexity.
This is a very good point and a great deal of what I was getting at. We have a sort of fascination with war that seems to be similar to a major sporting event and that fascination circumvents any real look at the cost.

Most of us know at least a round figure of how many US soldiers have died since the war began, but do we have any idea of the civilian casualties in Iraq? Without looking it up, how many? Almost nobody knows, but we sure as hell know how many US soldiers have died.


I think war stopped being serious when people stopped being comfortable with "civilian" casualties and decided that war needed rules.
When you have a war without rules, I think thats a terrifying concept that no human with any ounce of empathy could hope or wish for. People who roll their eyes when you try to talk about civilian casualties, I think, are entirely disconnected and have bought into the idea they've been presented with, they're an example of what I've been talking about. The way war is presented makes us forget how terrible it can be and it makes us ignore the real cost.

Read some accounts of Caesar's war against the Gauls or the march of Genghis Khan, there you see war without rules. Ask yourself if you're ready to handle that, ask yourself if you can live with it when you read about it in the paper.
 
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This is a very good point and a great deal of what I was getting at. We have a sort of fascination with war that seems to be similar to a major sporting event and that fascination circumvents any real look at the cost.

Most of us know at least a round figure of how many US soldiers have died since the war began, but do we have any idea of the civilian casualties in Iraq? Without looking it up, how many? Almost nobody knows, but we sure as hell know how many US soldiers have died.




about 100k, mostly iraqi's killing other iraqis. It's right there on the internet, so I don't know what you are all up in arms about.
 

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et al,

I thought about this question: "Can we take war seriously anymore?" I tried to consider it from a rational perspective. I asked myself, how can one not take the expenditure of "Blood and Treasure" (War) seriously? The only way that can be done is if you change the definition of war and its outcomes. And then look at it from the opposite side. How do you defeat the Invincible Army?

BLUF: You don't attack the Army, you attack the economy that supports the Army. Defeat the economy with the Invincible Army, and you have an Army that cannot deploy. If it cannot deploy, no one can fear it. It ceases to be persuasive in peace - supporting US Diplomatic objectives.

(National Security - US Military Support to Diplomacy) The US Hegemony:

In the past, I spoke of a group of people that came together in support of expanding the Hegemony. For most people, this is an invisible subject. They don't see it. But I think that other countries have seen it, more closely now that we've botched Iraq.

Dollar hegemony will come to an end eventually. This has important implications, but there is a way of stopping the transformation being too painful. Right now, the US is still the world’s only economic superpower, and will come out of a trade war with its dominance still intact. But this dominance is only temporary. This century will see first China and then India emerge as the world’s biggest economy. Right now, we are witnessing the very early stages in this transformation, and already we are seeing economic crisis as a result. The US will probably win the currency war everyone is talking about at the moment. But it won’t keep winning these economic wars.
End of US hegemony, why the Bancor and not gold will be the new currency | Investment and Business News
Ahmedinejad claimed that the end of Western hegemony was divinely ordained. "The enemies of our nations will go one day. This is the promise of God and the promise of God will definitely be fulfilled," the Iranian leader said.
Iran, Venezuela Vow To End US 'Hegemony'
Today, Iran correctly sees Israel's existence as a de facto projection of American military power and as the sole remaining obstacle to its future hegemony of the Middle East and the world, as Hitler saw Great Britain as the sole obstacle to his hegemony of Europe. Iran has learned from Germany's mistake in WWII and Saddam's mistake of the "Nineties," and is not wasting any time or energy to occupy a defeated France or to consolidate a fractured Middle East before it attempts to destroy America's WWII forward base equivalent of Great Britain: Israel. In fact, the ostensible balkanization of the oil rich Sunni Kingdoms provide a false appearance of strategic division which masks Iran's true amassing strength. Iran's ultimate destruction of Israel will cripple America's ability to wage a winnable World War against Iran before that war even begins. Consequently, America can expect unrelenting hot and warm wars of attrition by Iranian-armed proxies against Israel and U.S. forces to rid itself of these sole remaining obstacles to what will be its total Middle East hegemony. Or, alternatively, in the wake of a catastrophic US Iraqi defeat/retreat, Iran will unquestionably militarily occupy Southern Iraq to Jordan. It will then hold a Sword of Damocles over the heads of Saudi Arabia, U.S. CENTCOM at Qatar, and the entire US 5th Fleet at Bahrain.
Iran, The Fourth Reichastan - English pravda.ru
(COMMENT)

Just as the CEO of NPR, in firing Juan Williams, let lose the "Dog of War" on public funding and challenging the values of NPR as an unbiased media outlet --- so did the "War in Iraq" release the new vision on the demise of the American Hegemony. The "American Military" will not be defeated by confronting it with military force, but through economic power. The defeat will come at the hands of debt. The invincible Army that cannot afford to go to war.

Most Respectfully,
R
 
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When you have a war without rules, I think thats a terrifying concept that no human with any ounce of empathy could hope or wish for. People who roll their eyes when you try to talk about civilian casualties, I think, are entirely disconnected and have bought into the idea they've been presented with, they're an example of what I've been talking about. The way war is presented makes us forget how terrible it can be and it makes us ignore the real cost.
Read some accounts of Caesar's war against the Gauls or the march of Genghis Khan, there you see war without rules. Ask yourself if you're ready to handle that, ask yourself if you can live with it when you read about it in the paper.
From the examples you cite below, I can only assume that you're asking me if we can "handle the cost" of being among the greatest empires in history.

If I didn't know better, I would say that that's an intentionally stupid question. Why wouldn't I be able to stomach reading it in the paper? Why wouldn't I be "ready to handle that" -- whatever the hell that means? The cost of war is borne by the losers. If you win, you reap the benefits of your victory.

This is a moot discussion, because there are no civilians in war. Whether you hold a rifle or not, you a part of the war machine, and a valid target. Wars cannot be fought without economies, and the city center is as good a place for a raid as the aircraft carrier. Unless you're a penniless, jobless itinerant, there is no reason to mourn your death.

By the way, Caesar brought Gaul to its knees, and then civilized a vast and backward wasteland when he made it part of Rome's empire. He was a great man and a great conqueror who pulled what is now France and Belgium from barbarity.
 

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From the examples you cite below, I can only assume that you're asking me if we can "handle the cost" of being among the greatest empires in history.
Are we at a point in history where we need empires anymore? Why do we need this kind of thinking?

If I didn't know better, I would say that that's an intentionally stupid question. Why wouldn't I be able to stomach reading it in the paper? Why wouldn't I be "ready to handle that" -- whatever the hell that means? The cost of war is borne by the losers. If you win, you reap the benefits of your victory.
Could you handle reading a newspaper about troops from your country machine gunning an entire village of unarmed civilians? Could you morally handle the idea that troops from your country deployed chemical or biological weapons on civilian targets?

I'm sorry, but you'd have to be a sociopath to just shrug at something like that.

This is a moot discussion, because there are no civilians in war. Whether you hold a rifle or not, you a part of the war machine, and a valid target. Wars cannot be fought without economies, and the city center is as good a place for a raid as the aircraft carrier. Unless you're a penniless, jobless itinerant, there is no reason to mourn your death.
There's nothing I can say to an inherently nihilistic frame of mind other than you dont really understand what you're saying. Its easy for you to play the callous conqueror now, but I seriously doubt you'd be so flippant when it's your own family being shot for no other reason than the person with the gun felt like it.

By the way, Caesar brought Gaul to its knees, and then civilized a vast and backward wasteland when he made it part of Rome's empire. He was a great man and a great conqueror who pulled what is now France and Belgium from barbarity.
I'm sorry, but this is ignorance in a truly staggering degree. Caesar was a brilliant politician and a competent general, but he was by no means a liberator or savior of any kind.

The Gauls and other tribes of the area had culture, language, art, music, even science. The Coligny Calendar was far more advanced than even the Romans had at the time and the metal work of the area is virtually impossible to reproduce by hand in the modern world, even with modern equipment. The Gauls routinely beat the Romans in battle and on several occasions slaughtered several legions of Roman soldiers.

These were not "barbaric" people by any standard of measurement.
 
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Are we at a point in history where we need empires anymore? Why do we need this kind of thinking?

Could you handle reading a newspaper about troops from your country machine gunning an entire village of unarmed civilians? Could you morally handle the idea that troops from your country deployed chemical or biological weapons on civilian targets?

I'm sorry, but you'd have to be a sociopath to just shrug at something like that.

There's nothing I can say to an inherently nihilistic frame of mind other than you dont really understand what you're saying. Its easy for you to play the callous conqueror now, but I seriously doubt you'd be so flippant when it's your own family being shot for no other reason than the person with the gun felt like it.

I'm sorry, but this is ignorance in a truly staggering degree. Caesar was a brilliant politician and a competent general, but he was by no means a liberator or savior of any kind.

The Gauls and other tribes of the area had culture, language, art, music, even science. The Coligny Calendar was far more advanced than even the Romans had at the time and the metal work of the area is virtually impossible to reproduce by hand in the modern world, even with modern equipment. The Gauls routinely beat the Romans in battle and on several occasions slaughtered several legions of Roman soldiers.

These were not "barbaric" people by any standard of measurement.
You haven't given me anything but the "oh, well if it happened to you..." argument. Of course I wouldn't want my family slaughtered. I'd hate the people who did it, but it isn't as though I could fault them for it.

Anyway, great metallurgy took place in ancient Syria as well, but they were still barbarians. Even backward people can watch the stars and craft blades; it does not mean that can hold a candle to the greatness of Rome.
 

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You haven't given me anything but the "oh, well if it happened to you..." argument. Of course I wouldn't want my family slaughtered. I'd hate the people who did it, but it isn't as though I could fault them for it.
I'm saying you have a double standard. You shrug your shoulders if it's happening to others yet by your own admission you would be angry if it was done to you.

Anyway, great metallurgy took place in ancient Syria as well, but they were still barbarians. Even backward people can watch the stars and craft blades; it does not mean that can hold a candle to the greatness of Rome.
Your knowledge of history is...painfully lacking. I dont think you quite get what something like the Coligny Calendar represents. It's more than just watching the stars, with it you can calculate the position and placement of solar bodies for years and even decades ahead of time as well as an organized system of long-term timekeeping that (so far as we can tell) was developed independently of the Romans. This is extremely advanced knowledge for such a "backwards" people.

It's easy to sneer at advanced metalworking as not significant, but could Romans create something like this?
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Torque_de_Santa_Tegra_1.JPG

By the way, that's the end part, the terminal, of a torc. That piece of metal is about half the size of the end of your thumb.

The Romans even borrowed military technology from the Gauls and other Celtic tribes. The famous gladius was the gladius hispaniensis which means "hispanic sword". The gladius was borrowed from the Celtiberians and used for most of Roman military history until being replaced by the spatha, itself a borrowed design from Celtic longswords.

Why do you have such a hard-on for the Romans? They did many great things, but acknowledging that means you have to call everyone else "barbarians"?
 
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I'm saying you have a double standard. You shrug your shoulders if it's happening to others yet by your own admission you would be angry if it was done to you.


Your knowledge of history is...painfully lacking. I dont think you quite get what something like the Coligny Calendar represents. It's more than just watching the stars, with it you can calculate the position and placement of solar bodies for years and even decades ahead of time as well as an organized system of long-term timekeeping that (so far as we can tell) was developed independently of the Romans. This is extremely advanced knowledge for such a "backwards" people.

It's easy to sneer at advanced metalworking as not significant, but could Romans create something like this?
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Torque_de_Santa_Tegra_1.JPG

By the way, that's the end part, the terminal, of a torc. That piece of metal is about half the size of the end of your thumb.

The Romans even borrowed military technology from the Gauls and other Celtic tribes. The famous gladius was the gladius hispaniensis which means "hispanic sword". The gladius was borrowed from the Celtiberians and used for most of Roman military history until being replaced by the spatha, itself a borrowed design from Celtic longswords.

Why do you have such a hard-on for the Romans? They did many great things, but acknowledging that means you have to call everyone else "barbarians"?
There is no double standard. I would be angry if my family was killed, and I expect anyone else to feel the same way. It doesn't mean I care if they are angry or not.

Anyway, it is true that ancient genius was not limited to the Mediterranean, but I don't see what it matters. Any society will have its luminaries, but barbarism is barbarism, and there is a reason that Rome prevailed, and that their ways and culture took over in the places that they conquered -- They were simply superior. The Gauls, for all their artisinal skills, were unwashed, uneducated, and backward people. Where are all of the great Gaul aqueducts and architectual feats, or lasting works of any kind? Rome had wealth, education, phliosophy, and a sort of erudition completely unheard of the less civilized parts of the ancient world.

I'm not somehow underestimating the Gauls ability to watch the skies, I'm simply saying that impressive astronomy has occured in even the least "worthwhile" areas of the world.
 

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about 100k, mostly iraqi's killing other iraqis. It's right there on the internet, so I don't know what you are all up in arms about.

You can't take our responsiblity away for those deaths. We brought war to the country. We broke it. Pretending otherwise isn't being honest.
 

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From the examples you cite below, I can only assume that you're asking me if we can "handle the cost" of being among the greatest empires in history.

If I didn't know better, I would say that that's an intentionally stupid question. Why wouldn't I be able to stomach reading it in the paper? Why wouldn't I be "ready to handle that" -- whatever the hell that means? The cost of war is borne by the losers. If you win, you reap the benefits of your victory.

This is a moot discussion, because there are no civilians in war. Whether you hold a rifle or not, you a part of the war machine, and a valid target. Wars cannot be fought without economies, and the city center is as good a place for a raid as the aircraft carrier. Unless you're a penniless, jobless itinerant, there is no reason to mourn your death.

By the way, Caesar brought Gaul to its knees, and then civilized a vast and backward wasteland when he made it part of Rome's empire. He was a great man and a great conqueror who pulled what is now France and Belgium from barbarity.

The cost of a war is born by the losers. Really. You may want to rethink that thoughtless comment. The cost of war is paid by both sides. During the Amercan Civil War, 10% of all northern males between 20 and 45 years of age died; 30% of all southern males died -- from the north, 360,000 died; from the south, 260,000. Over 1 million casualties. OMG.

"Unless you're a penniless, jobless itinerant, there is no reason to mourn your death." Huh?
 

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You can't take our responsiblity away for those deaths. We brought war to the country. We broke it. Pretending otherwise isn't being honest.



So all the black on black crime in detroit is your fault. nice logic there.
 

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So all the black on black crime in detroit is your fault. nice logic there.

Not exactly the same logic, but the conditions that led to that, and those responsible for that condition would have to shoulder some blame. You can't take your responsiblity away from those who created the situation.
 

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Not exactly the same logic, but the conditions that led to that, and those responsible for that condition would have to shoulder some blame. You can't take your responsiblity away from those who created the situation.




Right, so its similar but different, different enough for you bias and agenda. Color me shocked. :roll:
 

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War is what it has always been... tribes wanting more power, land, resources, etc. It's actually pretty basic. The window dressing has changed along with the tools we use to do it, but the fundamental behaviours are the same. So is the psychology of the concept behind "the enemy".

In the Iraq war (and Afghanistan), the US and coalition did not plan to gain power, land or resources; such things were never realized, either. It didn't make the US more powerful. It didn't give the US more land. It is a major draw on US resources and the economy. The fundamental behaviors are not the same; collateral damage is not murder. The enemy is tyranny and oppression. Welcome to the 21st century, we're tryin to get free. US policy of destabilization didn't go too well (hoping the tyrants would kill each other off was overly optimistic, even if it bought us time). We adopted a liberation policy a bit ago.
 
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Right, so its similar but different, different enough for you bias and agenda. Color me shocked. :roll:

No, different. We haven't invaded any cities that I know of. We have bombed out and removed leaders by force. Destroying infastruture. Very, very different.

The only remote similarity has to do with everyone always being responsible for their actions. You seem to want to excuse the US from their responsibility. I say that can't legitimately be done.
 

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No, different. We haven't invaded any cities that I know of. We have bombed out and removed leaders by force. Destroying infastruture. Very, very different.

The only remote similarity has to do with everyone always being responsible for their actions. You seem to want to excuse the US from their responsibility. I say that can't legitimately be done.



I do? You seem to want to excuse Iraqis for killing other iraqis as if they are lesser people of lower intelligence who without a brutal dictator are predisposed to killing each other.
 

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I do? You seem to want to excuse Iraqis for killing other iraqis as if they are lesser people of lower intelligence who without a brutal dictator are predisposed to killing each other.

Not at all. But the fact is, we brought the war that produced this. They didn't start this; we did. We can't pretend we played no role it. That's dishonest.
 
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