S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

War is about weapons,

. . . and counting casualties (dead and wounded). It is about how the combatants point their weapons at each other, or kill each other, and not always why. War is about moving troops into and out of harm's way, and who is winning or losing. I have written poems about war. South by Southwest has many posts about war and the Middle East. As a retiree I think I know something about war(s), plural. Though I must admit I do not know how to fire a weapon, I understand it when the face and pertinent information of the latest U.S. military casualties silently conclude the Friday night PBS news program. But the following story has me completely stumped. I have no clue of what to make of it, how to think or feel about it.
It can speak for itself: The Yahoo! News headline reads, " Pentagon nixes ray gun weapon in Iraq." It was written Richard Lardner of the Associated Press on Aug 29, 2007. To quote,
. . . according to internal military correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, U.S. commanders were telling Washington that many civilian casualties could be avoided by using a new non-lethal weapon developed over the past decade.

Military leaders repeatedly and urgently requested — and were denied — the device, which uses energy beams instead of bullets and lets soldiers break up unruly crowds without firing a shot. It's a ray gun that neither kills nor maims, but the Pentagon has refused to deploy it out of concern that the weapon itself might be seen as a torture device.

Perched on a Humvee or a flatbed truck, the Active Denial System gives people hit by the invisible beam the sense that their skin is on fire. They move out of the way quickly and without injury.

. . . in August 2003, Richard Natonski, a Marine Corps brigadier general who had just returned from Iraq, filed an "urgent" request with officials in Washington for the energy-beam device. The device would minimize what Natonski described as the "CNN Effect" — the instantaneous relay of images depicting U.S. troops as aggressors.
The story goes on to chronicle the several-year history of the internal military battle over additional issues, such as safety and the cost deployment of these weapons.
Here is where I am clueless -
  • Is the Active Denial System horrible or humane?
  • Is a lethal weapon more appropriate in war than a non-lethal one?
  • Is unintentionally killing innocent civilians better than being seen as a country that uses means that appear to be tortuous or aggressive against these civilians?
  • Is it necessary for a non-lethal weapon to be proven completely safe before it use is approved?
  • Is the cost of arming soldiers with these weapons one of the considerations?
  • What on earth is the right thing to do here?
I am sure I have not thought of all the questions and certainly not the answers. What do you think?
My links: Cross posted at The Reaction.
My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is about "earth, fire and water."
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TXsharon said...

Hard questions that have my head spinning. I think the best answer is non of the above. Let's find other ways to solve our problems. I think we should be evolved enough by now--at least some of us.

Thank you for your nice comment on my blog. =)

Carol Gee said...

If decision-makers could see what is in it for them to make different choices, it would make it easier for them. But they get locked into "automatic" mode year after year. That is, as you say, not evolved; it is perpetually stuck. Thanks for your comment.

betmo said...

here's one- will it be used on americans who are labeled protesters or dissenters?

Davo said...

I hate to be viewed as defending anything Bush has done but it bothers me that every day, I see a count of Iraqi dead. I never remember seeing a single news article about how many Iraqis were dieing when Saddam was in power. I suspect we won't see any news articles telling how many Iraqis are dieing when we leave. Is it not enough that Bush rushed into an unjustified war which has resulted in thousands of our people being wounded and killed?

Davo said...

As for your question about whether the weapon should be used instead of a conventional weapon, I think of course it should. Should lives and injury be traded for perception?

Carol Gee said...

betmo and davo,thanks for your thoughtful comments.
I, too, hate to post a count of Iraqis who have lost their lives. And I think your point is well taken about the prominent position it has at the beginning of my blog. I will change it, because you are right that our own loss of life, understandably, should be posted first. Thanks to you both.