Ovi -
we cover every issue
worldwide creative inspiration  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
Ovi Greece
Ovi Language
Ovi on Facebook
The Breast Cancer Site
Murray Hunter: Opportunity, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
Power of illusion and illusion of power
by Jan Sand
2007-01-13 10:31:03
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon
Although this pattern repeats itself regularly throughout history, the earliest occurrence of power illusion in my memory was the French Maginot line. It was a line of forts and bunkers and underground passages at the border between France and Germany assumed impregnable.

It was constructed to frustrate invasion and was ready before the Second World War. The sense of security it generated in France was totally shattered when Hitler’s troops easily avoided the fortifications by sweeping through Belgium and Holland and then through France. Subsequently it has become the definitive symbol for false trust in an obsolete defense.

But this false confidence was the ephemeral property of a good deal of military equipment and strategy. It was true, in turn, of the thrown rock, the stone hammer, the bronze sword, the throwing stick, the bow and arrow, personal armor, the catapult and trebuchet, the steel sword, the castle wall, the cavalry horse, and surely a few more outside my knowledge.

During the American Revolution against English forces, there was British consternation that the Americans refused to fight in formal formations. It persisted in the guerrilla techniques that had proved effective in Indian fighting and was easily and usefully transferred to fighting the British. The technique took a long time to mature to present day insurgent tactics but it no doubt was used in one form or another throughout the history of warfare.

But the trend of military technology has, through time, granted the individual fighter more and more power. As weapons progressed through cutlery to guns of ever increasing effectiveness and firepower the individual fighter became able to confront larger and more powerful developed technological weapons. The WWII bazooka anti-tank rocket with its shaped charge explosive could penetrate a tank and destroy its crew. This did not destroy totally the tank’s effectiveness but gave it limitations.

The torpedo carrying aircraft did the same to the battleship, which led to the rise of the aircraft carrier, and the shoulder-fired heat-seeking missile has become a potent countervailing weapon against military aircraft. These individual weapons have much more restricted distribution than the average small arms so the large mechanical weapons still remain potent.

The SAMs, especially, are tightly controlled for the moment but, just as automatic small arms created a market for the non-ethically inhibited arms manufacturers, so the utility of surface to air missiles will find a ready market for those interested in destroying low flying military aircraft and, unfortunately, civilian airliners.

The most peculiar actor in this enhancement of individual destructive power is the atomic explosive. It is a prime example of illusory power. There is no questioning its true destructive force but it has so outclassed ordinary explosives that, aside from its initial use at the end of WWII, it has never been used in actual war. It is the ultimate demon still restricted to Pandora’s box because its release would no doubt evoke such horror from the rest of humanity that no nation could withstand its total condemnation and immediate retribution.

This, of course, has small restraint upon the rising movements of extra national terrorists whose actions cannot be pinned upon any nation that could be punished for the release of such a horror upon a civilian population.

Nevertheless, as North Korea has demonstrated, no matter how castrated the actual use of the bomb may be, its possession confers an effective shield against powerful nations who might consider to invade. Iran is well aware of this and no doubt would value such a shield in a world where unprovoked military action may become commonplace. And Iran is not alone in realizing this.

The latest player dancing in from the Maginot mind set is the so-called star wars defense against incoming ballistic missiles. Again and again, even with the most sophisticated development over many years, test after test has demonstrated that technology is far from competent in realistically countering this threat. There have been remarkable successes in occasionally destroying an incoming dummy warhead but these have all been easy setups with no obvious countermeasures provided for by the aggressive object.

Multiple incoming missiles would no doubt defeat enough of any defenses to make a major strike a worthwhile military action if that were attempted. Informed military scientists have repeatedly and very publicly spoken out about how primitive and ineffective current missile defense systems are.

Nevertheless, in conformity with the current fashion of the USA administration to ignore sensible scientific evidence, an ineffective anti-missile system is now being deployed n Alaska at great expense to the over burdened US taxpayer and to the great profit and joy of the military industrial complex who will sell any snake oil if it would prove profitable.

And, as has been noted many times. A container ship, a truck, or even, perhaps, a suitcase, is much more likely these days as a delivery agent for an atomic explosive than an incoming intercontinental atomic warhead.

Presto! The hand is quicker than the eye and which walnut shell would you say covers the pea?

Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Get it off your chest
 (comments policy)

© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi