Ledeen's excellent thought
I rarely spend time and space reprocessing other blogs ... especially when the other blogs have thousands of regular readers and I have at best 3 irregular readers. Rather pointless use of bandwidth. I'm making an exception in this case, because Michael Ledeen has made a tremendously
important observation, which doesn't seem to have generated a significant response.
Ledeen said:It's a commonplace in the study of mass murder—especially the Holocaust—that it's a lot easier to kill lots of people in a relatively antiseptic way (bombs, usually) than to kill an individual one-on-one. It's not easy to find an executioner, it's easier to find a guy who programs a bombing run on a computer. And it's easier to find a technician to run Nazi gas chambers.
Technology made it easier to set up these antiseptic killings. It separated the killers from the killed, the killers didn't have to watch or even inflict actual death, they didn't have to harden their hearts as their enemies suffered death agonies. If you dropped a lot of bombs on Germany and Japan in the war, you knew innocents would die, but you never really faced those people, and it was, after all, part of war, wasn't it?
But then the wheel turned once more. Weapons became amazingly accurate, and "precision bombing" became possible. And when that happened, it suddenly became necessary to face all kinds of very complicated targeting decisions. Lawyers were brought in to approve each and every target. And when the technology failed, or some guy at a computer or in an airplane or on the battlefield failed to get it exactly the way the lawyers had stipulated, there was suddenly hell to pay. War crimes, etc.
So paradoxically technological advance made mass murder easier, and now it's made it much harder. Which is to say, even the most lethal technology isn't either all good or all bad. Sometimes it pushes us in one direction, sometimes in another.
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My insignificant response:
Obviously our enemies understand this point better than we do. The term "asymmetrical warfare" is normally taken to mean that Jihadis use guerrilla techniques, hit-and-run bombing, etc, because they can't face the "massive force" of a Western army.
In fact the asymmetry is the other way around. Our enemies are willing to use 20th Century anonymous mass bombings (like 9/11) because we're pinned down by our 21st Century precision and fussiness, which makes our "massive force" totally worthless.