Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Military-Industrial-Infotainment Complex

The New York Times (reg'n req'd) has an article about new safety measures the Pentagon is taking to protect service members as troops are rotated in and out of Iraq.

I was opposed to the war in Iraq, but the war is now a fact of life. It's no secret I have very little faith in this administration. I think Dubya is a spoiled frat boy with a low IQ and no real political or international experience. But I have far more respect for the seasoned professionals at the Pentagon. I hope every single US service member abroad comes home safely.

I hope Dubya is not re-elected...but not at the cost of more lives. Hopefully the American people will boot him for his failure to generate American jobs, his anemic environmental policies, his callous disregard for international law, his stunning ability to alienate almost all of America's traditional allies, his failure to capture Osama bin Laden, the fact that he was AWOL from his National Guard unit, et cetera.

On the topic of the military-industrial-infotainment complex, the Manchester Guardian ran an article about how the United States is changing its policy on landmines. The Bush administration hasn't agreed to sign the treaty, but the articles claims the Pentagon's new policy calls for taking extra precautions to make sure that landmines can be reactivated or will automatically self-destruct.

Of course, the policy is set to begin two years from now. Which is safely after the elections. I wonder if this is just political cover for attacks on a President whose administration has rejected a lot of treaties out of hand, like the International Criminal Court. The administration also failed to reach a compromise at the Uruguay GATT meeting, as well as pre-emptively disavowing the ABM treaty, refusing to discuss the Kyoto protocols (which were flawed...but worthy of discussion, IMO), and killing the biological weapons treaty. Maybe Karl Rove is feeling a bit vulnerable on those issues, I doubt Dubya has a clue on any of these issues.

The pre-emptive disavowal of the ABM treaty really galls me. Why disavow a treaty before you need to do so? Just because you want to destroy international law and comity for the fun of watching the world burn? But I digress...

I'm not sure I 100% endorse the land mine treaty. I think North Korea is a pretty nasty place and I think South Korea is probably a little safer for the deterrent effect of those mines. But landmines and booby traps last a long time. Far longer than most of the conflicts that spawned them. Vietnam and Cambodia are still covered in landmines. Residue of decades-old hate waiting in the ground to kill and maim.

I wonder if there is a correlation between people's views on the morality of the actions of the US Military and their views on whether the US should sign the landmine treaty.

If war is a crime against humanity, then landmines are one of its horrors and should be banned as a step towards ending war.

But if you believe that war is a fact of life, then landmines become more of a necessary evil. Plato said that only the dead have seen the end of war.

I like Thucydides' comment that no man is so foolish as to desire war more than peace. For in times of peace, sons bury their fathers. But in times of war, fathers bury their sons.

Let me know what you think about the War in Iraq, the International Criminal Court, the Landmine Ban Treaty, the Biological weapons treaty, GATT and/or the US military-industrial-infotainment complex.

I think Zwichenzug made a good point when he said that epistemic actors are finite. I'm a bright guy, and I read a lot, but I don't claim to have all the answers. I don't even claim to have most of them. So I am always interested in other points of view. :-)

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