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Fighting the Techno-War

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the Technology-and-its-limits dept.

United States 315

The Gulf War ushered in the age of the Techno-conflict, a new kind of war favored by politicians because it' s supposed to be bloodless, at least on our side, and because dazzling new technologies, many of them digital, are supposed to crush and overwhelm distant and defiant cultures. But the use of technology to acheive global political goals has turned out to be much more complicated than many people, thought as both Saddam Hussein and Slobodian Milosevic have shown. TV loves to broadcast images of the Techno-war, and the Pentagon loves to provide them. But sometimes, these images obscure the real story.

Americans are among the world's best engineers and machine-builders, and their faith in the power of their technological creations to alter history is nearly a national religion. That faith is being tested and challenged in Yugoslavia.

Ever since Vietnam, the idea of the Techno-War has grown as a political and foreign policy tool for enforcing American and Western -- nobody else yet has nearly so much technology-- values and solutions on a dubious and diverse world.

The Techno-War, on display in Serbia and Yugoslavia nightly on cable and the evening news, (this column isn't about whether we should or shouldn't be there) is a powerful reminder of just how complex the mixing of technology and global politics is, especially as the rapid growth of digital technics advances the idea that we really can do and accomplish almost anything, and bend almost anyone or anything to our will.

The Techno-War is a godsend for politicians. Increasingly, it's characterized by these traits:

l. The notion of the painless war. Techno-wars are supposed to be clean, efficient wars, in that they are primarily waged by hi-tech weaponry and machines, rather than by our neighbors, sons, daughters and friends. And their targets, we are told, are buildings and defense mechanisms, not civilian populations.

2. Technology and public relations. Techno-wars are all TV wars, in that they feature lots of digital art showing missiles and bombs - all computer programmed and controlled -- hurtling towards grainy targets, then obliterating them. "Let me show you what our amazing new technology can do," enthused a British General on CNN last Saturday, as he urged reporters at a press briefing to pick up their personal video copies of smart bombs landing on target and demolishing buildings. Public relations are an essential part of Techno-Wars - sometimes it almost seems as if they're the point.

Next to pictures of lawyers screaming and buildings burning, TV loves nothing better in all the world than the picture of a bomb zeroing in on some evil building. The Pentagon loves this even more, since that's how they get money from Congress to buy and build more things.

So beginning with the Gulf War, the unholy marriage between these two -- satellite-fed screen journalism and the military -- has characterized the presentation of the Techno-War. If we have no idea quite what we're blowing up or why, we are amazed and delighted by the process with which we do it. 3. Techno-wars obscure cultural conflicts, in that Techno-War is predicated on the notion that our vastly superior technology will prevail over even the most ancient, bitter and entrenched rivalries and hostilities. For all of this country's history, Americans have seen technology work for them in terms not only of prosperity but of projecting political power.

Yet this faith sometimes obscures understanding of different cultures and ethnicities and the different ways in which they think. >From Vietnam to Iraq to the Serbs, we seem to fall into this trap again and again, thinking that our vastly superior technology will cause determined peoples to crumble and succumb. The thing is, they often don't.

How much do we really know about this particular ancient struggle, the one in Kosovo, elements of which date back hundreds of years and have defied solution, negotiation, or mediation? 4. The techno-gamble. Techno-wars are politically expedient kind of wars, in which political leaders essentially bet they can use technology to change political outcomes quickly. This, they wager, will happen because the public is both enchanted by the technology and placated by the fact that it's machines, not people, doing the fighting. Techno-Wars are declared abruptly, almost always without national or political referendum, and within minutes, accompanied by dazzling satellite-transmitted pictures of tracer bullets, bomb flashes and sounds of wailing sirens. The belief - also hubris, perhaps - is that they will be over before resistance or skepticism can develop.

Almost everyone involved in the latest Techno-War openly acknowledges that public support would vanish instantly if large numbers of American soldiers were being injured or killed, or if the conflict drags on too long.

Since Vietnam, Americans have had little stomach for sending soldiers off to war. Casualties during military actions and terrorist attacks in Beirut and Somalia prompted the abrupt withdrawal of American troops. Military actions in Haiti, Grenada, and Panama saw massive troops committed to overpowering small and impoverished countries for short periods of time with limited goals. All three resulted in minor American casualties and were over in days or weeks. But they were more traditional military operations, involving the deployment of many ground troops. In Kosova, as in recent military actions against Iraq, the Techno-war is advanced as a means to an end, the primary way in which a conflict or problem is resolved.

The idea that technology is power goes back a long time in America. In "The Rise of American Technology," (Iowa State University Press), Friedrich Klemm writes that modern technology - at the heart of American global power and expansion -- took root in the United States more than anywhere else in the world.

The minute the colonies won independence from England, Klemm, writes, they began the process of technical development and industrialization, especially the steam-ship, the railway and the telegraph, all of which played key roles in the expansion westward.

Americans went on to become the premier inventors, engineers, builders and technologists in the world, from mills to cars and telephones. It was precisely this passion for building technology, writes Klemm, that made America so powerful and prosperous a country.

The computer may yet top all of these creations. Computers are changing the world, and computing, especially networked computing technology is at the heart of the Techno-War. The Internet perhaps reinforces the idea that because we are technologically advanced, we are more powerful than people who aren't. In this Techno-war, digital technology is used to study weather, pinpoint targets, assess damage, launch weapons, rescue downed pilots, knock-out defenses, and otherwise wage a "clean," relatively bloodless war, if you're on our end of it.

But the problem with Techno-Wars is that they don't seem to work, or when they do work, it's in limited ways. The massive bombing of Germany didn't shorten the war or force the Germans to end it. Israel and Great Britain have for years had the technological means to destroy their political adversaries in the Middle East and Ireland, but their superior technology haven't worked.

Techno-wars may be metaphors for hubris about the limits of technology, no matter how dazzling. It is stunning to watch all those Pentagon-arranged pictures of computer-programmed Tomahawk missiles lifting off from B-52's and sailing as much as 500 miles to fly through the doorways and windows of buildings. But they don't seem to be effective at stopping, or even slowing, the conflict and killing taking place hundreds of miles away.

Saddam Hussein has survived several Techno-Wars, emerging even stronger and more enrenched than he was before. He was pushed out of Kuwait not by a Techno-war, but by a pretty conventional one, in which troops and tanks lined up in the desert to push him back to Iraq.

Satellites and computers are able to find terrorists, but can't bring them to justice. Haiti is still an impoverished and repressive mess. (Grenada wasn't big enough to qualify as a Techno-war, more as a police action).

The world seems shocked when even the heads of tiny countries like Serbia defy technology. Watching these hi-tech tapes on TV night after night, there's the eerie but recurring sense that the only way NATO's goals will ever be achieved is if somebody like John Wayne takes a couple of thousand Marines into Belgrade and hauls somebody off to jail. But this solution would involve humans as much as machines. It wouldn't be a "clean" or "painless" Techno-war.

"Increasingly dejected by the inability of their dazzling weapons to bring Slobodan Milosevic to heel and stop the ethnic purge of Kosovo, NATO leaders are struggling to figure out what to do next if the bombing does not work," reported the New York Times on Wednesday.

The answer? More bombing, and bombing closer to urban centers. That means more casualties, and probably, even more resistance.

Techno-wars are powerful metaphors for the limits of and unpredictable nature of technology. - If technology is becoming more precise all the time, the human nature it's supposed to alter is inherently unpredictable. We have what we believe are rational reasons for deploying technology for political or humanitarian purposes. For the targets, the very machinery itself is a rationale for resistance. - Techno-wars are almost never bloodless. Since machines behave in unpredictable and erratic ways, people get killed on both sides. Clouds obscure satellites, planes malfunction and fall. A bomb's control system fails, or a missile goes awry and the same TV that transmits all those hi-tech pictures of precision bombs is suddenly showing dead civilian bodies. The political equation can change in an instant. - Even the most powerful technologies can be evaded by determined and resourceful opponents (the Viet Cong, Saddam Hussein, the Afghan resistance). Different cultures may resist technologically-imposed political solutions imposed from without, no matter how overpowering the technology is.

Technology can't in itself work quickly enough to compensate for poorly defined goals with little public support, unless it is employed so destructively - as in nuclear weapons - that the cure would be worse than the disease.

Put another way, Techno-Wars don't work unless the technology is unleashed to its devastating limits - as in Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- an unthinkable political option in any scenario short of Armageddon. So the irony of technology is that we have enough to destroy Saddam Hussein a million times over, but not without taking a chunk of Baghdad with him, something that the world would reject and no politician wants to do. In an odd sense, the reality is that the more powerful our technology, the less likely we are to use it.

Finally, as the Internet and World Wide Web and related computing technologies spread and grow beyond anyone's expectations, Techno-Wars remind us that technology isn't necessarily as powerful as we like to think it is. There are even bigger forces at work, and they don't care what we think or expect.

"Power is ultimately nature itself," writes technology historian and political scientist Langdon Winner, "released by the inquiries of science and made available by the inventive, organizing capacity of technics. All other sources of political power - wealth, pubic support, personal charisma, social standing, organized interest - are weak by comparison."

Or, put more bluntly in one of the corollaries to Murphy's Laws about technology (No. 5: Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad worse) first put forth in l949, "Mother nature is a bitch."

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Nothing has changed in warfare - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951692)

I agree, because from there perspective, it is duck cover and pray. There must be ground troops there for the laser not so "smart" bombs to work... and that is the only force that they under stand is that of having a few thousand troops pointing 30 cal. and 50 cal. barrels at them

Wiped them out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951693)

The word from The Emperor:

"Wiped them out. All of them."
-- The Phantom Menace

Please quit using digital as a buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951694)

Indeed, optical image processing is used for Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) systems and kicks the ass of any digital computation system.

Re: Nothing but dishonorable bullies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951695)

You must be brain dead. Serbia is trying to kill or throw out 2 million people, and you don't find just cause in NATO intervening? Christ, even Hitler only wanted to "ethnically cleanse" his population...

I can't believe you just admitted to buying into Milosevic's amazing PR machine. People like you make me sick.

Diplomacy Of Violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951696)

Is Milosovic really irrational?

If Serbia were allowed to become a peaceful, democratic country he would end up in the same place as the leaders of most other peaceful democratic countries: the unemployment line. Crisis keeps him in power.

Katz needs to read more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951697)

material. Read some books on history, inventions, military strategy, tactics, and politics. I think I could argue all his points, but heres some...

1. Americans are not the ONLY inventors. They also just love to tinker with stuff. Quote from a WW2 observer: "The American Army did not go anywhere without a veritable used car lot of vehicles."

2. Personal charisma is a weak political force compared to "nature". What kind of 'green' gobbledegook is that? Both Hitler and Melonovic got where they are by ol fashioned personal 'politiking'.

3. Use Battle Droids'

4. The successful strategy ALWAYS uses the 'indirect approach'. B.H.Liddell Hart 'Strategy'. I suggest you read it.

5. "Let them hate so long as they fear", Acius 136bc. Melosovic will not stop until we find something he fears.

Probably a statement that we will fund the Croats to fight come winter. Melosovic HATES to fight in the winter, he ALWAYS goes to the peace table in the fall, and starts fighting inthe spring. Geez, somebody pay attention.

6. Stealth aircraft are NOT invisible to human eyeballs.

7. We shoulda impeached the guy when we had the chance. Note to Europeans, see it does affect you doesn't it? The guys' gonna drag NATO into a war it doesn't want.

8. Why didn't we try the economic embargo and all that stuff first? You mean to tell me Serbia doesn't import ANYTHING? Surely he needs oil, gas, bullets.

Joe Robertson

Ground troops in a "Techno-War" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951698)

Hmmm.. I wonder how much development has gone into the whole *Mech* idea..?

Pretty good, needs footnotes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951699)

I especially like the part about lawyers running for public office. I have been saying that for years (though, I say no one who has EVER passed the bar should be allowed to run).

Add hyperlinked footnotes listing examples of each violation, the article of the Constitution it applies to and maybe an article by a Constitutional scholar backing up each statement.

Remember, evidence leads credence. People who, for lack of knowledge, consider some (or most) of this document to be "looney" will start to come around when presented with proof.


Doom's day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951700)

Here is my take on the cituation in Balkans.

The stubbornness of both sides doesn't provide the prospect of gracefull exit for either of them. NATO commanders and western leaders can not back up and admit inability to muscle underpowered little country. Population of Serbia is united with their leaders in the cause of defending their homeland as they've never been.

So, now we have two walls and neither of them will back down. The options for NATO is to escalate bombing and start targeting civilian targets since military once are elusive. That will most definitely cause Russia to counter act. Another option is to get on with the ground war, but the prospect of it is bleak since there is very little public support for that in the west.

The following scenario is the most likely way events will follow, unless one of the sides bows down in front of the other:

1. Russian naval group is in Mediterranean. (7 ships are underway as we speek)

2. NATO escalating bombing, hits civilian targers, power is out in Belgrade, many civilian casualties.

3. Russia unilaterally lifts weapons embargo from Yugos and starts supplying them with modern weapons.

4. NATO and west are agrivated with Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine. The fighting words are flying. NATO starts overflying Russian ship in the sea.

5. By the accident or not NATO plain/s is/are shot over the sea. Fireworks started in Mediterranean, ship are hit with missilies on both sides.

6. Russian naval group under the threat of being extinguished. Outraged Eltzin gives an order to deploy tactical nuclear warhead against NATO vessels.

7. NATO respondes, real fireworks begin!

As for us, slashdot readers, there will be no /. anymore. Nostradamus was right afterall.

I just have one question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951701)

How do you use RTFM anyway?


Basil Little Hart are great too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951702)

check out his books. Indirect approach and such. He was the one to give the germans the idea for the Blitzkrieg.

What a wonderful LINK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951703)

Thanks for the info. I never heard of this book but now I'm going to order it.


Please quit using "buzzword" as a buzzword! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951704)

The only buzzword I recognize is "BEE"


Japan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951705)


Techno Babble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951706)

As usual, the readers of Slashdot is more well informed than Katz. Air campaigns do not win wars, but Techno wars do. Just because the weapon is on the ground doesn't imply that it isn't technologically advance. Put up an Abrahms tank against any other tank in the Iraqi or Serbian army, and I can assure you victory for the Abrahms.

If you want to talk techno wars, why not have Mitnick hack into command central of the Serbs and send a virus to disable all their Command and Control centers? Now THAT is technology.

Also, it is ironic that Katz of all people would complain about the digital computers used in the army. I had thought a tech savvy person so involved in cutting edge computing would be glad to see the military finally getting away from analogue systems.

Only in the past couple of decades (1980s) have digitization of military equipment become widely used. Before that, you've never heard of "fly-by-wire". There may be a lot of upgrades in process to convert old aircrafts into fly-by-wire, but that also implies how old some of the stuff we use are that they NEED to be upgraded.

Back to air campaigns: the reason why they won't win a war is that they were never meant to. Going in the air allows you an advantage to cut off supply lines and communication centers so the opposing force cannot operate as efficiently. However, even with the best conventional bombs, you will never destroy an entire army with just aircrafts.

Ever try to destroy an entire colony of ants by stomping on them? A few will invariably survive.

The one point that Katz did get is that technology is used as a political tool. Building technology brings federal funding to the politician's district as well as tax revenue. It also has the effect of "scaring" other nations from commiting acts that the U.S. does not approve of.

But listening to Katz, and you would have us fighting with sticks and stones. What is his point? If techno wars don't work, don't have them at all?

Wars have always been about who have the bigger stick and who have the bigger stone to throw. But wars are also subject to Stupid Dumb Luck. The F-117 might have been shot down by anti-aircraft fire, but that is not because it doesn't work. Line up 100 SAM firing blindly but continuously, and even a bee will get shot down.

People are not losing faith in technology, they are losing faith in politicians KNOWING how to use them. Don't put down on the high tech military hardware just because they aren't producing the results the politicians spin out. After all, if it weren'tfor DARPAnet, where would YOU be?

Re: Please quit using digital as a buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951707)

Digital weaponry is actually quite frightening, and very deadly.

Imagine being shot with a constant stream of 1's from the muzzle of a weapon - you'd be ripped apart! Pretty scary eh?

The 0's too are not without their military uses, the can stun or even blind soldiers in the field!

Buzzwords too can cut a man in half, much like lumber.


thank god, a sane article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951708)

considering the amount of computer tech that
comes directly from the wet dreams of
warmongers... and the behind the lines - dont get our hands dirty in actual combat NSA/DOD types... most computer geekish environments are filled with propaganda and pro war hype.

its always nice to see a sane viewpoint in a computer geek context.

bullying bullies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951709)

In every military act that the U.S. commited (that I remember) the U.S. has been standing up for people who could not stand for themselves.
We are not directly defending ourselves but we are protecting others and our economic interests. Remember Saddam attacking Kuwait (a major oil producer). And now we are simply trying to stop another "hitler" from eliminating people because of their ethic background.

The U.S. delima is if we allow other countries to destroy each other, we lose our dominance in the world.

The Germans were soundly rejected! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951710)

I don't agree that the Germans ended their Airwar a little too soon. They just got beat. Whether or not you believe it was a matter of what pilots were the best, a more accurate asessment of the skirmish looks at the aircraft that were being used.

Now the Germans had no intention of winning that war in the air alone. The Air raids where step one. The Germans needed to destroy British Air Power before they could hope to get shipping (and therefore troops) anywhere near the Isle. They made two big mistakes in this area. They didn't believe that the English actually did have radar and they tried to spearhead the attack using Stuka dive bombers. The German Stukas got ripped apart. When they decided to use fighter escorts, the fighters had a big problem with range and often times couldn't afford the price in fuel of covering for the Stuka's and still tangling with Spitfires and Hurricanes over the Channel. You would be suprised at how many fell into the Channel on the flight back.

They also tried using some of thier larger twin engine fighters, which were slower and less manuverable. They got beat up. They lacked the tactics and were two impressed with themselves at that time to successfully pull off what they had planned. Even after all of that, the V1 and V2 strikes were just a campaign in terror, and the British even had an answer for the V1's with the Gloester Meteor. Germany was nowhere near winning that fight.

Your local neighborhood Aviation enthusiast,
Big Din K.R.

Bravo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951711)

Good article; bad formating. I've complained about a lot of the crap that Katz has posted here, but maintained that we should be patient and give Katz a chance. Lately, he has demonstrated that that faith in him was well warranted.

The history of U.S. interventionism is that almost always the "Law of Unintended Consequences" (see Why Things Bite Back: New Technology and the Revenge Effect by Edward Tenner) kicks in. In other words, intervention almost always causes greater problems then the ones we set out to solve with our "We're Yanks, we can do anything" attitude. It looks like Kosovo is definately following this pattern. I feel for the plight of the ethnic Albanians, and I think we should do something to help them. But I think bombing Serbia into submission is going to work about as well as bombing Iraq into submission to our will has -- i.e. not at all.

Worse, the irony that this man who adamantly opposed the Vietnam war has now single-handedly involved us in the moral equivalent of another Vietnam seems to be lost on the American people (can you say hypocrite?). I love my country, but I fear my government. Pray for America, and for those innocents killed or injured by the technology you and I have worked so hard to develop. I know, the techology itself is neutral, neither good nor evil. But we have apparently given the wrong people control over this technology (and I don't think developing Open Souce smart bombs will help things any).

Techno Wars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951712)

I was there too, and the only crap I put aside was the line about liberating Kuwait. In fact, I felt much better about fighting for my country (is an economic boom possible without a stable oil supply?) than somebody elses. Fighting for a cause other than one's own country has a certain mercenary ring to it, not patriotic at all. I was there for my country first, everybody elses second. That is why I don't want anything to do with this new war.

Doom's day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951713)

Eh. I'm not convinced that Yeltsin and Primakov would dare risk irritating NATO to that degree, given their economic crisis and the fact that such action might jeopardize their IMF funding.

On the other hand, there are some interesting possible events... (no particular order)

a) The KLA renounces Rambouillet (sp?), leaving NATO without a leg to stand on. This bolsters the official Serbian position of fighting terrorists. Rugova (sp?) is disavowed, as allegedly a prisoner of the Serbs and under coercion. Both sides become much more hard-line.

b) A cross-border incident happens, perhaps in the same general area as the capture of the 3 US GIs. If the incident happens to allegedly involve armed members/supporters of the KLA, that could provide an excuse for widening of the war.

c) Albania gets involved, which would also widen the war. This could be merely arms-smuggling.

d) Milosevic's court convicts the GIs, but he commutes their sentences and unilaterally releases them, to demonstrate his lack of ill-will towards NATO. Note that he has yet to move against the contingent in Macedonia; if he makes no overt attempt to counterattack, his claim that this is merely a counterterrorist in which NATO has no jurisidiction is MUCH stronger, particularly with his own people.

e) Parts of the Stealth aircraft make their way to Moscow or Beijing.

f) The KLA disperses into tiny cells, and commences far more intense terrorist/insurgency operations throughout Serbia, not just Kosovo. Disruption of military logistics, limited assassinations, targetting of isolated victims, perhaps destruction of civillian infrastructure all become viable targets, and not just in Pristina/Kosovo.

A better solution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951793)

There is another way, Mormons!

Send them in on their bicycles, wearing their purity pants, bibles in hand.

Let's see how Milosevic feels when he gets woken up early on a Sunday morning by a knock on his door...

And let's see him try to get rid of 'em!

"....what's that Slobodan - you surrender?"


A couple good points (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951794)

I'm glad to see that at least one other Slashdot reader is 'up' on Balkan history. The strange alchemy by which Yugoslavia has been transformed from a model of multiculturalism to a country torn by 'ancient ethnic hatreds' by the press is profoundly disturbing because it offers such an easy excuse for us to back out.

But to keep vaguely on topic, the technology of modern warfare is not so much the smart bombs we're dropping on Kosovo as the communications satellites and plain old newspapers that repeat that grainy video footage and still photos around the world.

This is because all war is, ultimately, about mindshare. You can 'win' a battle by standing on a piece of land, but you win the war by convincing your enemies that you should be standing on that piece of ground. Conversely, your enemy wins by convincing you that you shouldn't be.

And as the information age strenghtens its hold, the struggle over the representation of reality becomes increasingly important. Our enemies have understood this -- all it took to get us out of Somalia was a dead soldier being dragged through the street. The Somalis staged a photo-op when they invited the press to come see a 'demonstration' of Somali hatred for US intervention. And we bought it. The death of one soldier brought the most powerful military in the world to its knees by altering our perception of the war we were engaged in.

The smart bombs and stealth fighters that people seem to believe make up modern warfare have all the emotional involvement of a video game. Bleep, bleep, bang. Watch the space invaders on the screen.

So when that 'sanitary' emotional detachment is turned on its head by a clever adversary who uses the supposedly inferior technology of radio, television, and the printing press, our sense of dislocation leads to a desire to withdraw as quickly as possible to regain that detachment and distance from the suffering of others.

The Obvious (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1951799)

Wars are never bloodless - anyone who thinks they can make it a useful tool without both intentional and inadvertent killing is deluding themself. I find this article amusing, because it points out most people's ignorance on the purpose and function of airstrikes, as well as the amazing lack of tenacity in the American public to accomplish a goal.

Intensive strategic airstrikes are supposed to hit at the centers of command, control, and supply - relatively big, immobile targets - and in that sense, the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia are turning out to be a textbook example. Deprived of intelligence and logistic support, an opposing ground force can then annihilate them. Examples of this, not pointed out in the article, are the Croatian and Muslim armies in the recent Balkan conflicts, and the US army in the Gulf War, 1991, which were both greatly assisted by US airstrikes. In the latter, the US walked away from routing the world's fifth largest army with barely over a hundred casualties.

While airstrikes can destroy targets of opportunity (small convoys of vehicles, etc) it is virtually impossible to inflict serious damage to a ground force from the air, unless they are dug in as a static defense, such as the Iraqi army in Kuwait. It's the ignorant politicians, knowing nothing about fighting, who make the incredible claims of "bloodless war" and "no civilian casualties".

Something implicitly stated in the article is that somehow the airstrikes "aren't working" and are "a failure". Hello!'s been little over a week, and we're already judging its effects? The Serbs have been planning and executing their campaign of ethnic cleansing for months, do you want NATO to give up simply because they don't roll over dead for us? Their ground forces are beginning to run short of food and supply, and eventually enough of the Yugoslav Army will be chipped away by airstrikes to make sending a ground force (or even arming the KLA) a viable option. I find it sickening in this something-for-nothing world that someone can plan for the murder and removal of over 2 million people, and bet that the American public doesn't have the stomach or the attention span to stop him. Even worse is that Milosevic is right.

Ground troops in a "Techno-War" (1)

palpatine (94) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951800)

There's only one way to get ground troops fighting in a "painless" war. Mech droids.

Clinton: The evil Captain Kirk? (0)

davie (191) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951801)

Does Pres. Clinton remind anyone else of the evil, Klingonish Captain Kirk from the parallel universe who had the cool viewer/zapper installed in his quarters so he could remotely observe his crew members and/or zap them into oblivion with a push of a button (he even has the concubine, 'cept the one in the STTFG episode was much better looking)?

Still something to be said for modern weapons (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951804)

Weapons will only ever be as good as the training of the people using them, BUT...

Given a choice between using high-tech weapons and not, I'll take 'em. Any good soldier recognizes the value of the tools layed out in front of him.

As with all tools, their value is in how you use them.


FYI (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951805)

The Pentagon is saying it probably was a SAM that shot it down -- it seems an AWAC saw it go up.

There are, after all, more than one way to skin a cat or, in this case, shoot down an airplane. Even the most slealthy airplane (and those things are very nearly impossible to spot on even the best radar sets) gives off a lot of heat. Fling a heat-seeker in its direction, and all you've got it a subsonic airplane and some flares.

It's about that time you start wishing you'd signed up to fly an A-10...


It all boils down to the common soldier (1)

bmetz (523) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951807)

Actually, most of the tail end of that on the
various news sites was saying it had to have been
a mechanical malfunction (perhaps they got a pot
shot off on it) - I and most of the experts quoted
on CNN and ABC News think their 30 year old
SAM technology didn't have a chance of shooting
them down.

It all boils down to the common soldier (1)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951808)

How else do you explain the fact that a $45 million "stealth" fighter gets shot down (most lilkely by an alert SAM operator)? Never underestimate the skill of your opponent.

One man, one gun (1)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951809)

...or missile, as the case may be.

If it *was* a mechanical malfunction, then the plane should have been grounded. Discounting pilot error (and I'm sure that they don't send newbie pilots up in stealth planes), theonly logical conclusion is that they were shot down (although I'm willing to concede it was a lucky hit..send up enough anti-aircraft rounds and you're bound to hit *something*).

The air campaign will change nothing (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951813)

Posted by jereades:

These cultures have not "been killing each other for centuries" -- the ethnic cleansing conducted by Serbian nationlists first in Bosnia and now in Kosovo is the product of a deliberate and callous fabrication of history as a means of attainting and maintaining political power.

For reference:

If nothing else, at least read Survival Guide -- probably the most poignant and clever book I've ever read. Basically, it's a tour-guide to a besieged Sarajevo covering the blacked-out nightly hotspots, corners to avoid because of constant sniper fire, and where to find water (the local creek), firewood (the city's parks), and food (grow it or scavenge in the fields under cover of night).

But for a really good history and background on the current conflict, you have to read Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation.

Techno Wars. (3)

Damon C. Richardson (913) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951820)

I was in Desert Storm. Putting all the crap about oil a side. We were there to release Kuwait from the control of Iraq. I can remember the month of bombings. It was very very effective at removing the fight from Iraq ground troops.
Don't forget that Iraq would have been alot longer if we did not "soften" them up with Air attacks.
Still in the end it took Ground troops. Until the ground troops went in Kuwait was still being looted. No matter how many bombs fell. I can remeber being at the Kuwait international airport. The Marines were still running into small pockets of resistance.

War has changed alot since WW2. Still the basic's have not changed.

1. You have to degrade there supply's.
2. Remove there ablity to move supply's to there troops.
3. Remove there ablity to communicate with there own troops.
4. Control the sky's over the conflict.
5. Ground troops must take and hold the land.

I really don't like to see Current conflicts compared to Vetnam. I see the biggest difference being that fact that we have a all volenter army. These soldiers are professinals at what they do. They are trained and equiped to carry out the will of our nation. The also KNOW THE REAL DEAL. They know that they will have to fight. They know that they may have to die. The accepted that when they joined. They have been reminded ever since they first showed up for Basic Training. The american public may want to believe in a new world where our toys will do the fighting. but the Military stills knows that People will have to sacrifice there lives. The Infantry knows that they are the final word when it comes to winning a armed conflict.

Kuwait was not free till Coalition troops could hold the land. In a way it is sick to kill with out having to get your hands dirty. Getting your hands dirty is the only way to understand the sacrifice.

Independance for Kosovo now!

slashdot really needs a spellchecker (1)

I.P. Freely (978) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951822)

Well at least learn to spell cannibal.

Diplomacy Of Violence (1)

wayne (1579) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951831)

Both of them [Milosovic and Hussein] suffer to a degree from the same problem Hitler did.

Oh no, a Hitler reference already. Did this thread really need to die this quickly? Godwin's law rules though.

Just a question (1)

Jefe (2093) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951835)

If technology is used to obfuscate the reality of war, is writing about technology in war used for the same reason? Put another way, if you duck talking about the rights or wrongs of the mission, or the interests/purposes it serves, is the rest of this piece a red herring?

Diplomacy Of Violence (1)

Jefe (2093) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951836)

What you're saying then, is 'if you get bombed, do as you're told.' That's rational, I presume -- though I'm less sure if that if the US was getting bombed by someone with the declared intention of protecting a minority within our borders, we would respond as 'rational actors'. Just a thought. (Apologies for the we=USA language)

Diplomacy Of Violence (4)

pridkett (2666) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951838)

Recently the United States has been really big on using the Diplomacy of Violence. Essentially, this amounts as violence from afar to acheive political goals. Usually this is done with planes or missiles and no men on the ground. Components of Katz's techo-war.

But there is a problem with such a situation. Diplomacy of Violence only works if dealing with a rational actor on the other end. If the person with whom they are trying to "negotiate" with is able to weigh the costs and benefits of a situation, then it will work.

But the problem lies in the fact that Milosovic and Hussein are not rational actors. Both of them suffer to a degree from the same problem Hitler did. Hitler was fanatical about the destruction of the Soviet people. So much so that he overlooked many common military procedures and diverted troops to what ended up as a disastrous operation (the whole thing about not bringing winter clothes when going to Moscow was a bad idea to).

Milosovic suffers from the same problem. He is a fanatical nationalist determined to see an ethnically pure Serbian state, and is willing to stop at no cost in order to acheive this. That is why the current Diplomacy of Violence will not work. All it has done since bombing began was speed up the clensing process and increase the Serbian resolve to continue.

I'm not trying to say one way or another what I think about the hurrent conflict, as that is irrevelent to the message of this post. What I'm trying to say is that the techno-war will inevitably fail against non-rational actors.

Techno War? More like propaganda war. (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951839)

If you mean these last few conflicts have been nearly 100% propaganda on both sides, I'd say I agree.

In Vietnam, the reporting was at least in part impartial, with (admittedly inflated) body counts showing in the corner of the screen. The fighting being shown was real too.

In the gulf and now in Serbia, actual numbers are hidden, and the "conflicts" are staged. Serbia is blowing up it's own houses for the benifit of TV crews, and NATO is doing the same. In the Bosnia affair, we had Croats shell their own buildings and beaches for the benefit of Western TV crews.

In the gulf, the viewing public was treated only to grainy images of the miraculous accuracy of our "smart bombs". No mention of the 750,000 Iraqi casualties.

As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

Wow! So many irrational people! (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951840)

A brief rundown of the US bombing world tour:

China 1945-46
Korea 1950-53
China again 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-99
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998
Yugoslavia 1999

If only the rest of the world would simply accept that the US is always right, they wouldn't have any trouble!

As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

Cut through the propaganda, it's a civil war. (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951841)

More accurately, they've been fucking each other.
Kossovo used to be nearly 50% Serbian. Since the 1980's, that Serbian population has been uh, dealt with by ethnic Albanians.

The KLA is also nearly 100% an American creation. Those are US-supplied arms they're using, and there have been artocities on BOTH sides, not just Milosevic.

Oh, and the "genocide" is 2000 dead Kossovars, nearly all KLA and combatants, not helpless civilians like CNN tells you they are.

As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

I'm starting to think this was the plan all along. (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951842)

Morale on capitol hill has been low since the end of the cold war. Damn hard to bomb who you want when you want without the "anti-communist" cover.

Wars are very convenient for boosting profits and keeping the public in check. If no other country is willing to stand up and be the big aggressive asshole, then it will just have to be the US.

As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

who's making money? (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951843)

General Motors

General Electric




Just off the top of my head.

As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

Ah yes, Japan. (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951844)

I was just listing the countries we weren't officially at war with, and bombings that violate the UN charter.

Hiroshima is questionable, Nagasaki was certainly a war crime, as was the "finale" (the massive conventional bombing raid against Japan after they surrendered).

As I have gone a bit off-topic, this post is sure to be moderated.

As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

Where is Kossovo? (2)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951856)

Midway between favored NATO friend Turkey, and the unfinished Caspian Sea oil pipeline that we don't want to go through not-so-favored friend Russia.

Pretty obvious why NATO troops need to be on the ground there. I give it 2 weeks tops.

As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.

Not convincing. (2)

planet_hoth (3049) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951864)

Yeah, we are bullying Serbia. What do we want from them? To stop persecuting the Kosovar Albanians. So we're bullying a bully, because force is the only thing he'll understand.

I don't care for the way Clinton and the other NATO leaders are executing the war either. I guess that's the price you pay for living in a society where civilians, not the military, call the shots. But I think the ideas behind our actions are well meaning, at least.

I'm not really sure why you are opposed. I'm not saying there *aren't* legit reasons to be opposed, but you just seem to be saying that it's too easy or something.

Imagine me tearing my hair out... (2)

planet_hoth (3049) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951865)

You made a couple...interesting remarks there.

"I do wish Greenspan worried less about inflation and more about jobs."

Last I check, enemployment was at a 29-year low in the States.

"what's so great about the constitution?"

Uhh, besides being the basis for most other western governments for the last 200 years, nothing, I guess. ;)

Diplomacy Of Violence (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951866)

i don't know if you read the salon article on the history of the yugoslav republics, but it's even worse. historically, the serbs celebrate a huge military loss as most ppl do a victory. they're not afraid to just fight until they're dead.

poor albanians. the serbs have been fucking with them for years in kosovo. why do ppl insist on running governments with the overtly abusive aspects of culture in mind rather than with an eye to suppress those abusive tendencies? damn megalomaniacs.



A different perspective on the Balkans (2)

jht (5006) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951871)

The quote here is from PJ O'Rourke's book "All the Trouble in the World" (1994), which I strongly recommend. His politics are not my cup of tea but PJ, when he writes on things political, can make things astonishingly clear and funny, too. His new book, "Eat the Rich" is very funny, too.

"The way Tito kept Yugoslavs from killing each other was he did it for them. This is the same technique used by the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians, Nazi Germans, and everyone else who's had the misfortune to rule the Balkans. The locals have to be provided
with an ample supply of new grievances, otherwise old grievances come to the fore. In Tito's case, one of the old grievances was Tito.

Although Tito himself was of mixed Croat/Slovene/son-of-a-bitch background, his World War II Partisan troops were mostly Serbs. In 1946, 100,000 anti-Tito Croat refugees were handed over to Tito by the ever-admirable British. Tito's partisans then killed something between 40,000 and all of them, with the usual number of women, children, and old people included. Of course, the Partisans didn't do this for a lark. The Croats, under raving nationalist Ante Pavelic, had established a Nazi puppet state in 1941 and killed as many as 350,000 Serbs.........

Who Hates Who, and Why...

The Christians hate the Muslims because Cristians were peons under the Ottomans. The Muslims hate the Christians because Muslims were pissants under the Communists. The Croats hate the Serbs for collaborating with the Communists the same way the Serbs hate the Croats for collaborating with the Nazis, and now the Bosnians hate the Montnegrins for collaborating with the Serbs. The Serbs hate the Albanians for going to Yugoslavia. Everybody hates the Serbs because there are more of them than anybody else to hate and because when Yugoslavia was created in 1918 (with the help of know-it-all American President Woodrow Wilson), the Serbs grabbed control of the govenment and army and haven't let go yet...

It's hard to come back from the Balkans and not sound like a Pete Seeger song. Even those of us who are savagely opposed to pacifism are tempted to grab the Yugoslavs by their fashionably padded shoulders and give them nonviolent what-for: "Even if you win, you ASSHOLES, all you've got is YUGOSLAVIA ! It's not like you're invading France or something."

(For promoting nationalism) ....War doesn't work anymore. Rape and slaughter may get Serbia on the evening news, but, from the point of view of becoming major players upon the international stage, Serbs would be better off selling Yugos."

The air campaign will change nothing (2)

cthonious (5222) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951874)

At least that's my opinion. These people have been killing each other for centuries (since the original Ottoman invasion).

The only thing that has even kept peace in the Balkans has been occupation, plain and simple. The Ottomans kept an iron-fisted peace, as did the Austrians after them, albeit a bit more gently. Probably the US occupying the Balkans would be a bad idea; and as soon as our military presence disappears, they will go back to slaughtering each other.

The real problem is that these cultures simply hate each other. They are the same ethnicity; most people do not realize this. The bosnians, serbs and croats are all the same people, separated by culture - religeon, language ...

The way to fix this is not with bombs, but with televisions. We need to put a TV in every Balkan home and pipe in M-TV. This will eradicate their cultures, religeon and everything else along with it, turn their populations in drooling, babbling idiots, and hence fix the problem. Talk about techno-war. Hmphhh!

Nothing but dishonorable bullies (3)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951882)

I have seen nothing from the US during my life except these "beat up the little guy and tell him what to do" skirmishes my whole life. No longer do we fight honorable wars like WWII - where we actually had a reason to fight (and even give our lives) to protect ourselves. Instead we behave like the mean kid on the block chasing little kids around with an electric cattle prod stolen from daddy. And laughing because they can't do anything to us. I don't like it. I don't like this whole NATO/Big Brother thing either. Read this for more info [] (The SmallBrain "mammals" will say it is anti-government. LargeBrained people will realize that it is pro-constitution)

I'm sure I'll get power-flamed for a lot of this. I love my country, but I fear my government. I'm just not really understanding the need for all these wimp-wars of the last 20 years. Why don't we just live our lives. If someone wants to be stupid enough to come mess with the US, then we can wallop them, but until then we should just be nice. This is more like walking around saying "I bet you can't kick MY ass!" - That's all fun until someone comes along that CAN. Every large empire (which is pretty much what the US has become) has behaved the same way. Now there is no Greek, Roman, English, empires. Someone finally kicked the arrogance out of them. We need to use our magic for good, not evil.

That is all I've got to say about that for now.

Pretty obvious... (2)

JohnL (7512) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951890)

This is pretty durn obvious. No fighting force has ever been defeated by any "wonder weapon". (Japan in WW2, you ask? Look at the campaigns that led up to the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki.) If a group or nation has the will to fight, nothing except troops on the mud will defeat them.

One historical example come to mind: WW1: In what was probably the greatest demonstration of skill-at-arms ever, Sgt. Alvin York [] , US Army, captured an entire German machinegun battalion. He did this alone, armed with a five-shot rifle and a seven-shot pistol.

At the time, the machinegun was the "ultimate weapon". It commanded the terrain for 500 yards, killing all in its path. The machinegun was the primary reason that WW1 was reduced to "trench warfare"--everyone was scared of 'em!

Today's "wonder weapons" are no different. A smart bomb still isn't smart enough to kill one rifleman. And it's the still the rifleman that carries the day.

...and Reich was ripping off Benjamin Barber (1)

D-Fly (7665) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951893)

...who wrote perhaps the best summation of the matter, in a wonderfully readable book called "Jihad vs.McWorld." [] .

Bizarre but interesting... (2)

D-Fly (7665) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951898)

"14 - They have made instruments not backed by gold or silver legal tender for the payment of debts, and illegally allowed the Federal Reserve, a privately owned corporation, to control the money and credit system of the country without being properly owned or controlled by the People."

Okay, so some of it is a little wacky, Klom. You've got to admit that it would be a little tough to run our economy on a gold standard. Besides, gold's objective value is nearly as much an illusion as that of paper.

As for the Federal Reserve, I don't know if I'd go so far as to say they are a #private# bank...more like an independent one--albeit a perhaps-too-powerful-one. I do wish Greenspan worried less about inflation and more about jobs.

As for the "it's pro-constitution" part, what's so great about the constitution? It's a 200-year-old document primarily obsessed with preventing us from crowning a king in the George III style. I'm not sure why the militia crowd (and I'm NOT throwing you in there with them) are always so fanatical about the constitution; it's almost a religious symbol to them.

Fascintating stuff nonetheless. It's got something for everyone--a mix of Libertarian, Leftist, and even right-wing-black-helicopters-style griping about the feds. Most interesting, of course, is the stuff about corporations...Thanks for posting it.

It all boils down to the common soldier (1)

skroz (7870) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951899)

1. Stealth technology is rendered useless when :
Bomb bay doors are opened
Missiles are fired.

This plane was probably visible to radar for a split second, and a lucky shot got off.

2. If there were anything useful left of that plane, the next dozen or so cruise missiles launched would have been targeted at the wreckage.

Technology vs Tribalism (2)

jawildman (7978) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951900)

On "MarketPlace" last night, Robert Reich had a very similar commentary. He delineated the two great forces at work in the world as Technology and Tribalism. And made the same point, that Tribalism almost always can overpower or outlast Technology. It's even true in our own history. The American Revolution was won by our 'tribe' despite the British having better technology.

Clean War (2)

Evan Vetere (9154) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951904)

Very good, but the technology is the wrong aspect to focus on - at least, in my opinion. The fact that this is a Clean War, where we attempt to win without spending anything but money (no lives), is why we will lose. Unless the nation leading the assault really wants to win, they'll lose.

Before the bombing started, I read an interesting Zogby poll of voting americans.

  1. Do American troops belong in Kosovo? Yes, 62%.
  2. Where is Kosovo? I don't know, 34%.

We don't, as a population, know where the nation is let alone the political details of the reasons for the coflict.

We wanted to win in the two Great Wars, in Korea, and in the Gulf. We wanted out in Vietnam. And in Kosovo, the war has been so thoroughly cleaned that we don't know why we're there or where we are.

We can't possibly win this. I am almost ashamed to be an American.


who's making money? (1)

devious (9195) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951905)

who's making big bucks building new tech-warfare
machinery!? I wonder if they've been lobbying this new theatre of war?!

It all boils down to the common soldier (1)

Rabid Wombat (9276) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951906)

What I heard while spending April Fools' Day laid out on the couch sick:

The plane did have a malfunction of some sorts, and went down. The pilot ejected, and the plane destroyed itself. Machines like that have too much secret technology to let any part of them fall to the ground intact and be salvaged. (Although 117's use first-gen stealth tech).

If the plane had gone down and was somewhat intact, some nation would have certainly found a way to buy what was leftover for reverse-engineering purposes.

Techno Violence (2)

jhage (9442) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951907)

If something is to be done, let it be done well. We've seen this before. Khaddafi was one of the first that I can recall (then again I'm a young pup). We bombed. He shut up (some) but hey, he's still there. Reagan isn't. Saddam? Still there, because we're not willing, as a country, to accept the basic fact of any war. People die. There is no bloodless victory in war, that I can see. There can be bloodless battles, but never a true victory. Desert (Foo) had very low casualties, but they didn't suceed either, truly. We've bombed Serbia before, it's done drek. All it does is teaches those bombed where the limits are. Milosovic did a marvelous job tapdancing around NATO demands while building up. He got enough troops, and wham, over the border and thanks for playing. The Serbs obviously think that sacrificing men to the war is worth it. We don't. At this point, no technology in the world can help, if the will to victory isn't there. And is isn't, and it's not likely to be. Every time we send troops in, the opponent just has to look to Somalia or Beiruit to see examples of how to kick the Yankee Imperialist Dogs out with minimal effort.

Nothing has changed in warfare - (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951908)

If you want to take a piece of land, you have to occupy it with men on the ground.

The U.S. is learning that air campaigns have limited usefulness, although it is currently the safest way to punish an opponent (if not entirely effective).

It all boils down to the common soldier (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951909)

Its your experts vs. a hunk of black carbon-fiber tailwing on the ground in Yugoslavia.

I'm going with the empirical evidence that says that invisible fighters aren't so invisible.

Ground troops in a "Techno-War" (1)

ToastyKen (10169) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951914)

Or Battle Droids on STAPs!

The Obvious (1)

ToastyKen (10169) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951915)

This would be true but for the fact that the whole point of a "technowar" is that it should be over in a flash. The purpose of the NATO bombing is to get Milosevic to change his ways in a few days, and he hasn't done that, so the bombing is a failure.

If air war could win a war, (1)

cswiii (11061) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951918)

I'm no John McCain fan, but his statement on Crossfire last night:

I am very skeptical because all three of us,
being students of history, know that the last time, I think, that air power won was when Zeus used to have an unlimited supply of thunderbolts.

..was pretty darn accurate.

Two ways to end conflict (1)

Hish (11070) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951919)

There are only two ways to end any conflict:

Annihilation or compromise

Take your pick.

Katz needs to read more... (1)

Submarine (12319) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951925)

Some points about an embargo:

* An embargo will make Serbia poorer, but won't by itself remove Milosevic. You can be a dictator in a poor country as well; in fact, it's easier.

* Victims in Kosovo are not attacked with expensive, high-tech weapons. A pack of angry men armed with submachine guns (even shotguns) is enough to force all the inhabitants of a bunch of houses to flee. Such weapons are likely to be useable for years after the embargo is put into effect; in the meantime, all the victims will have been killed or driven out.

* Embargoes don't work if there's an external sponsor (like the USSR for Cuba - now we have Bosnia).

If Russia wants to send planes and ships to Serbia, you won't be able to prevent them from arriving, short of sinking them. Do you want to start World War III?

* The embargoed country will show pictures of sick children and accuse the embargoers of killing them with the embargo. This won't play well on TV.

[ The fact that the dictator could suppress the real or imaginary problems of those children by leaving is going to be ignored. ]

same language (1)

muchandr (12588) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951926)

Actually, even the language is the same. Serbs,
Croats and Bosnians all speak Serbo-Croatian.

stealh (1)

muchandr (12588) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951927)

Stealh planes are invisible to nacked eye because
they only let them fly at night.
Also stealth can be seen on a meter wave radar.
That makes it not worth it.

Whoa, trippy, man. (1)

Weasel Boy (13855) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951928)

Interesting stuff behind that link. Starts out very good, spirals rapidly out of control. Long on fiery rhetoric and short on details. I love paranoid conspiracies as much as the next guy ("Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you"), but... Where's the beef? Oh, and just because you say something twice doesn't remedy the lack of substance.

Tech vs. Conventional (2)

ion_ash (14931) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951932)

It's important to make a point about public support with regard to the so-called techno-war. In World War II, it was pretty easy to convince the American public that going to war in Europe was in the national best interest. The allies had smart leaders, smart politicians and luckily, both sides of the conflict agreed to fight a conventional war. (That is until the Japanese became involved.) We viewed WWII as both a mission of humanitarianism, and of reigning in a dictator bent on "world domination." This is something that the "public" was able to grasp and support.

The war in Korea was the same in that it remained conventional, the war effort had public support (more support than WWII at least at first) and the US goals in Korea were straightforward. The media as we know it today was taking its first baby-steps in war coverage and was able to feed the pentagon what it needed to keep support back home.

Vietnam was the first time that the US was missing the key ingredients for a successful war. Very little public support (at any time during the conflict and less so towards the end, of course.) We had military leaders on our side who, while knowledgeable in conventional war, couldn't keep up with the VC because the VC didn't play by the rules of conventional warfare. Our politicians back home were missing the last key ingredient...salesmanship. They could not sell the war to the American People because what we were fighting for was lost in translation (or was never clear to the US in the first place) and every day on National TV we could see our sons dying in the rice paddies.

With the event of the Gulf War, the leaders in Washington tried to learn from the mistakes of Vietnam and instead of trying to teach us why it was important to stop Saddam Hussein, told us that "We don't need public opinion to start fighting, because we can show the American People that US lives are not at stake." The new weapons capabilities, the bright flashing lights and pretty colors on our TV's convinced the People of that.

But we again suffered from a lack of clear objectives (beyond the liberation of Kuwait and protection of our allies in the region.)

In the balkans, we've got almost the same problems as we did in Vietnam and in the Gulf war. The public doesn't understand the humanitarian conflict (and hasn't been told if this is reason enough to war against the Serbs.) It doesn't know where the conflict is taking place, and the leaders in Washington and Nato can't tell us what are objectives are. It's not like the US and Nato gets involved every time one ethnic group tries to wipe out another one. Just look at Rawanda, the only reason that we don't look pathetic as a result of that conflict was that the American people didn't see the bodies of dead Rawandans on national TV every night.

Nato and the US have relied on the the Air/Techno war as the first action to take in conflict. They almost seem to say "We don't know what we're up against, how long we can expect to fight, or for what outcome we're fighting. But its important to get the ball rolling, (or bomb dropping) just so we appear to be in control."

I wish that it was easier for US citizens to get real information on the conflict before we start dropping bombs on people. Of course that's fanciful thinking... it's way easier to turn on the TV and let someone else tell us what to think.

ps. I like Jon Katz.

Please quit using digital as a buzzword (2)

Visoblast (15851) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951933)

"dazzling new technologies, many of them digital"

So what if its digital. Analog works fine, too. In some cases, analog is even better than digital, and its usually cheaper.

For instance, active noise cancellation was achived during World War II using analog electronics and worked quite well. In fact, it was so simple, people refused to belive it would work. Today, active noise cancellation can be done digitally, but it requires A/D conveters, D/A converters, and either a complex controlling circut or a microcontroller (plenty complex, too). But since analog is simpler and works just fine . . .

Digital stuffs are just tools to solve a problem. Use them where they work well. Do NOT insist digital stuff be used everywhere because digital stuffs are not inherently better at all tasks.

A couple good points (2)

rw2 (17419) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951938)

Much of what JonKatz says is true. Particularly that you cannot overthrow a government by air strikes alone.

One thing is questionable, the reference to elements of this conflict going back hundreds of years. It's true that the Serbs and Albanians have lived in the space for hundreds of years, but the conflicts are largely modern. 19th and early 20th century saw a few problems, but more recently things were quiet (remember that Kosovo had constitional autonomy).

My main criticism is that this was mostly a sociology of war piece, and not a terribly good one because he kept trying to work technology into it.

Political Power? (1)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951940)

Well, it could be argued that Bill Clinton is the first president to sleep his way to the top...

If air war could win a war, (1)

Razorblade (18414) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951942)

The Germans ended their air war a little too soon. If they had pulled through, I wouldn't be responding to your posting. The Germans didn't know how close to victory they had gotten. Another thing that saved Great Britain's ass was that it had much better pilots than the Luftwaffe pilots. A pure air war is not as effective as a blitzkrieg, which combines infantry, armor, and air power. Just look at the Six Day War:Israeli Airstrike 5 June 1967. The Israeli air force hit the surrounding countries' airbases so fast that their enemies didn't know what hit them. And then the Israelis sent in their armor and infantry to clean up the mess. Even though the Israelis did use armor and infantry, it was the Israeli air force which brought Egypt, Syria, etc. to their knees. When the six day war was over, the Israelis had a total victory.

Nothing but dishonorable bullies (1)

Razorblade (18414) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951943)

So how the heck are we supposed to stop Milosevic's genocidal campaign in Kosovo. The US tried diplomacy, but it turned out to do nothing because Milosevic rejected all of the possible solutions that were enforceable. The only diplomatic solutions Milosevic would accept were ones which were impossible to enforce, and therefore wouldn't end the genocide.

Cyber Attack. (0)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951950)

I'm current working on a webpage that will entail an essay about how we should attact the communcation carriers via the net using the dreaded scriptz of the K-Rad kidz and actually breaking in and actaully hacking into the system, meaning that people would have to figure out their networks and how to gain access to every military computer and satalite to make them un accessable by that military force so that they will be un-able to track the opposing forces. The page is here [] .

Cyber Attack. (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951951)

The question is wether or not that would be conciderd treason, becuase you are trying to help the forces attack......
The correct website is

Good Idea (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951952)

Would it be treason?!?!??!?!?

Treason or Not? And the correct page. (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951953)

Do the laws state that if you are attacking a country this way durring war times be considered treason. The correct web address is
Hopefullly tonight I shall update this page, becuase I can't do it here at work, to make it into an essay discussing the idea about the meathods and how this would be the first line attack, instead of sending out troops and fighter pilots to risk their live, and possibly the life of innocent people in that country. I was out of my mind when I first made the website, it basically stated that we should start a cyber attack again Yugoslavia, but then after I posted that, the idea of what could happen if this was done, specially since we do have 3 people captured over there. I personally disagree with killing people, beucase it totally goes against what I believe in and what I was taught, btw i'm not religious.This is just what I think should be done before we start sending people out to kill and to be killed.

slashdot really needs a spellchecker (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951954)

Well some of us are at work and type about 65 wpm and try to get out what we are thinking before our bosses see us and all that....

slashdot really needs a spellchecker (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951955)

Doh!.. Didn't notice.. I was checking over that.. I type to fast sometimes.

Misunderstood (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951956)

Why would I sugguest that? Basically this whole idea started from a post about cracking Yugoslavia in a post a couple days ago.. I think i'm just going to type up a nice long essay about why attacking the country via the net first would be the best first attack in pre-war......

A different perspective on the Balkans... (1)

Ellis-D (19919) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951957)

This isn't about promoting nationalism, this is promoting humanity and stoping the indecencies in this world..

Political Power? (1)

Figaro (20471) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951962)

All other sources of political power - wealth, pubic support, personal charisma, social standing, organized interest - are weak by comparison. Hee-Hee....

Art of War (3)

schporto (20516) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951963)

I would strongly suggest reading 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu. Especially the part about "Fire Attacks". It has been claimed that in every war the winning side used the principles set in that text. Corralaries can be drawn to today's technologies and (my understanding of it is that) Fire Attacks generally corrolate most closely to air wars. They could further likened to the techno wars that are spoken of here. A key point that Sun Tzu makes is that if you do not know your enemies limits than you will not be able to win the war. In the case of Kosovo I don't think the US quite understands what the Serbs are willing to do and why they are willing to do it.
Here's a link to the "Art of War" [] . There are others out there if you search for them.

is there a bee around my head? (1)

t0ast (22382) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951965)

Im so cyber-tired its not funny, been staring at my digital computer too long I guess. Boy, I hope a techno-war doesnt start while im asleep.

Gotta go guys, ive gotta change into my Darth Vader jammies.

Bzzzzzzzzzz... buzz words alert. Lets try and stay away from that next time ok? Its not horrible Jon, just annoying to read it on slashdot when i cant get away from it on CNN.

Cyber Attack. (1)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951966)

Good idea, treason is very fashionable this year.

Content and Presentation (2)

genehckr (23251) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951968)

From reading initial comments, it seems as if people are getting a little bit more out of this than the average Katz piece. That's good. However, I'm not getting more out of it, because I gave up after the second time I saw a number embedded in the middle of a paragraph.

A public plea to Mr. Katz: You're posting hypertext here. You should take advantage of the things this medium lets you do, like make automagically numbered lists (<ol type="1">), and embed links into your text (for example, why wasn't the book title from ISU Press linked to, or ISU press? Why isn't your email address at the bottom of the article a link?)

Please try to understand: For myself and many others, your facility with this medium has a direct and substantial impact on your credibility. This is directly analogous to how people react to a poorly editted essay in Old Media.

I understand that you're quite busy with family and career, and that picking up HTML might not be a priority. I understand, and I'd like to offer my services. Send me a draft of your forthcoming posts, and I'll mark it up. No charge. I think you've got some interesting things to say, but I (and others) aren't getting to see them, because you're doing the New Media equivalent of printing first drafts on low quality paper, with cheap ink, in a cruddy font, with no copy-editting.


Clean War - where is Kosovo? (1)

Jburkholder (28127) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951976)

"We don't, as a population, know where the nation is let alone the political details of the reasons for the coflict."

Where is the nation of Kosovo? Er, that's rather the point isn't it? There is no 'nation' in the geographic sense, is there? The ethnic Albanians (at least the KLA?) want to create a seperate state from the Yugo's, Kosovo is a 'province' or something of Yugoslavia.

I know this is somewhat off-topic, but I think it lends credence to your argument that most of the US population doesn't know what the conflict is about, or where it is, or what the US/NATO goal(s) is(are) in the conflict.

But then most US citizens are only dimly aware of anything that happens outside of the US anyway, unless there is a really good sound-bite on the news about a couple hundred americans being blown up by a car-bomb.

No one understands or cares, that's why we go in with push-button warfare. I'm not saying its right or wrong (I'll keep that opinion to myself), its just sad that the average American has so little knowledge or interest in world affairs. (as in, "screw the news, what time is 'the simpsons' on?")

slashdot really needs a spellchecker (1)

Jburkholder (28127) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951977)

I mean, sheesh!

HAHA! A real solution! (1)

Jburkholder (28127) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951978)

Now why didn't *I* think of that. You are entirely correct, no amount of military attack or occupation has been able to overcome the ethnic hatred between these groups for hundreds of years.

Sabotage their culture! What an elegant and simple solution! ;-) Turn them into vacant, morally bankrupt, selfish, materialistic [sp?] MTV-drones (read: Americans), they will no longer have any motivation to do anything, much less go on genocidal expeditions.

Great idea! (grrr....)

If air war could win a war, (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951980)

This post would be in German.

Ask the British about the effectiveness
of air war alone.

Good Idea (1)

DonkPunch (30957) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951985)

Please let us know what the visitation hours are in the federal penitentiary. :)

Misunderstood (1)

DonkPunch (30957) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951986)

Sorry, I guess I misunderstood your post. I thought you were suggesting attacking US military computers.

The devil is in the details. (2)

morrigan (32728) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951991)

Comparing Saddam Hussein to the VietCong and the Afghan resistance movement is rather insulting, at least to the Afghans and the VC. Katz has lumped a third-rate military leader who happens to have nine lives, a brilliant political mind, and one hell of a PR machine together with the masters of modern guerilla warfare. The only basis for comparison between either of these guerilla fighters and Saddam is that all of them go into hiding when the missles start flying. It's just that the VC and the Afghans tend to come out shooting...

We defeated (I don't know if that's quite the right word to use, since "defeated" nations don't tend to come back posing and posturing about how they're going to kick your ass if you come back) Iraq in ground combat without any trouble, and with very few casualties. We did not have the same luck with the Germans, and I don't think anyone wants to get involved with Vietnam again. Heck, ask the Russians how they like dealing with Afghanistan, and see how it stacks up to anyone's experience in Iraq.

The article is an interesting read, but as soon as JK starts trying to make historical or cultural analogies, he starts sounding like an idiot. My advice: stick to what you know!

We Must Maintain the Illutions (1)

apollo18 (75856) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951997)

In the last part of this centuary the press brought hone to people images of the bad side of war (blown apart bodies, not at all what you see in the movies). This produced a emotional reaction among people who saw the horror, but not the excitement of war. Technowar allows the horror to be filtered out while maintaining the excitement. This is much more satisfactery to everyone, except the people who have been volintered to serve as targets.

Diplomacy Of Violence (2)

apollo18 (75856) | more than 15 years ago | (#1951998)

Milosovic is completely rational, he is just using a differedt value system than we do. In his terms the peace terms ammounted to "commit sucide or we will kill you". If he accepts he will be out of power, and possibly dead, very quickly. If he rejects the peace offer his army will be attacked, damaged, but probably not destroyed. By being openly against NATO he is out from under a number of restrictions and can possibly emirge much better off. Given this kind of decision table it is a no brainer. The fact his country gets trashed in the process is acceptable overhead.
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