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Dec 4: Surviving the Evolution of War and Weaponry

WAR!  What is it good for?  Absolutely nothing – that we can any longer support and survive.

For years we have lunged from crisis to crisis, reacting to what just occurred instead of planning for the next outbreak or attack. Instead of being reactionary, we must be pro-active with a new approach.  Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Solving our existing problems while preventing new ones requires a different approach.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. –Albert Einstein  

The evolution of weaponry has changed everything about war.  It should be abolished for one simple reason.  There can no longer be any winners.  And anyone who survives won’t consider themselves the lucky ones.

Summary: Everything in our bodies, houses, cities, nation and world consist of, and relies on, physical systems and structures that are engineered and maintained by following fundamental principles or the laws of nature.These systems and structures tend to function reliably well for extended periods of time and we too often take them for granted.

The human mind residing within one structure (our brain) can be considered a physical ‘thing’ because it is entirely dependent upon most other body systems and structures working reasonably well.  And all of our bodies systems and structures likewise rely on a variety of both human engineered and natural systems and structures immediately around our bodies.

By Chuck Woolery, Activist (not TV Host)   

Below are 25 relatively new factors, mostly a product of unprecedented advances in technology running into profound stagnation in government systems and structures that by their design are virtually incapable of responding effectively – yet remain resistant to change.

Maximizing human freedoms and security for the long run — is no longer (if it ever really was) a function of weaponry or disarmament.   Achieving sustainable ‘life, liberty and justice for all’ will be a function of acknowledging the changes below and then changing our government systems and structures to effectively address them.  

“A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.” –Aldous Huxley –

If Huxley were alive today I believe the trends/factors below would lead him to predict that ‘No country can survive the use of war as a problem solving system.  Given the modern advancements in relatively affordable, globally ubiquitous, and increasingly powerful dual-use technologies the capacity for mass murder and crashing any technologically dependent civilization is available to almost anyone with a serious grievance and access to a car, a bio lab, or a computer’.

Five overlapping trend lines intensifying increased chaos.

  1. Exponential growth of technology.
  2. Linear human thinking. .  
  3. Flat lined government change.
  4. Deteriorating political collaboration.  
  5. Existing ‘independent’ government systems incapable of solving globally interdependent problems.   Together these five persistent factors accelerate global chaos by preventing effective national or global response systems that are actually capable of preventing global threats, or fully recovering from events that cannot be prevented.  

Eight threat categories:  

  1. Human violence (war, terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, assassinations, unintentional ;
  2. Economic (Immigration/refugees, hunger, starvation, sanctions, trade war, recession, cyber incident, depression/recession, collapse of economic system;
  3. Environmental (global warming, species extinction, declining health of oceans and soils; 
  4. Biosecurity (new and re-emerging infectious diseases, pandemics, bioterrorism, loss of antibiotic arsenal, bio security accidents;
  5. Technology:  Artificial intelligence, Deep fakes, cloning.  Robotics. Anonymous weaponry; 
  6. Crime: (cyber, drug cartels, pirating, kidnapping, human trafficking, corruption, prostitution, small arms sales, WMD proliferation;
  7. Natural Disaster (volcanic eruptions (Yellowstone), earth quakes/tsunamis, Carrington effect, asteroids;  
  8. Human Cognitive dysfunction:  Capacity to believe anything regardless of contrary evidence.  Tribalism.  Greed and selfishness. 

Hybrid threats:

The threat assessments listed above are usually considered independent of the other factors.   But reality blends threats.  

  • A pandemic could spark an economic collapse.
  • An economic collapse could spark a war or a pandemic.  An international crime or terrorist attack could spark a WMD event or a war.  

See “The Dark side of globalization” (Washington Post) by James Stavridis, former Supreme allied commander at NATO 2009 to 2013,

What kept him up a night was the “convergence” of the dual-use nature of materials to develop WMDs, international crime, and terrorism

  • Evolution of weaponry: The destructive capacity and lethality of modern weapons is beyond our mental capacity to grasp.  Drone swarms, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, nano explosives, lasers, hypersonic projectiles…IEDs and WMD proliferation…  Nuclear weapons are the best-known threat, but not the only threat, or the most likely to be used.  Fortunately, nuclear weapons may be the only weapons technology that is increasingly easier to detect. (see ‘factor P.).
  • Dual-Use Technology:  Every technology can be used for good or bad, unprecedented benefit or unimaginable harm.  We cannot have one without the other.  Disarmament is no longer a credible, affordable, or even a peaceful option. Nearly all technologies are becoming cheaper, easier to use, powerful, ubiquitous, and some – anonymous.
  • Increasingly anonymous technology:  Increasingly stifles deterrence (a former ‘peace’ enhancing factor).
  • Increasingly complex technology increases vulnerabilities and exacerbates chaos:  As complexity increases in computer hardware/software, cars and other forms of transportation, communication, banking, energy production, sensors, robotics, weaponry, and medicines — we know less as individuals about how they work.  We know even less about how they may react to, or interact with, other new factors.  Increased complexity usually comes with increased vulnerability.  Thus our advanced civilization being increasingly dependent on these technologies becomes more vulnerable and dependent on those who actually know how to fix them.  Not all fixers will have our welfare in mind.   As the efficiency of complex things improve, we grow increasingly impatient with breakdowns and lag time in fixing them. And, our government officials become increasingly burdened trying to anticipate, prevent, or respond to regulating or mitigating such factors.
  • Our increasing dependence on increasingly complex systems increases our need for artificial intelligence…. Itself a concern to some regarding human survival.
  • Procurement system complications:  Weapons usually take seven to 12 years from concept to battle field application.  Key technologies within these systems however can become obsolete after one or two years. This forces cost overruns, delays, and reducing overall effectiveness against newer, simpler, cheaper weapons.  Imagine tiny, easy and cheap to manufacture drone swarms defeating our most sophisticated and costly weapons systems, like the F-35, before it gets off the runway. 

  • Offensive advantage over defenses:  First strike now has the overwhelming advantage.  Especially in free, open, and trusting societies.  This motivates more offensive actions (terrorism) which motivates greater intrusive surveillance in society.   This factor also accelerates the ‘use them or lose them’ mentality accelerating ‘preemptive’ doctrine. 
  • Replicable weapons:  Traditional weapons were used up when they were used (bullets, missiles, tanks). Now some weapon types (bio, cyber, nano, robotics…) can replicate themselves. Some like bio and cyber do so with little to no additional economic or materials cost.  Consider 3-D or 4-D printing and its exponentially affordable destructive capacity. 
  • Cost and complexity of advanced weapons systems are increasing while cost and complexity of improvised offensive technologies are decreasing (think IEDs, cyber, drones…). War is NOT economically sustainable even by the richest nations.  A primary goal of Osama Bin Laden was to “Break us economically” (as if we needed help).  We must find new strategies/tactics that do NOT rely on expensive military force(s).
  • Super powered individuals:  Advancements in technology make individuals increasingly powerful. Which makes super power nations increasingly more vulnerable.  Trying to detect these individuals prior to their destructive actions requires rapid and increasingly invasive procedures that most people do not like and some will violently reject.  Investing in an environment where few people have the desire to destroy, and more people have the willingness to stop them, seems to be a wiser pathway.  
  • Corporate development of technologies:  The capacity to buy or abuse technologies cannot be controlled after they are sold on the global market.  Corporate priority to generate profits for shareholders often takes priority over national priorities or the protection of human rights.  Both US military and intelligence agencies are increasingly dependent upon private contractors blending into their operations. Secrecy becomes more difficult given the increasing international/global nature of corporations. The most recent example of this is US intelligence agencies working with Silcom valley behemoths with tens of thousand of employees who may have prosperity instead of patriotism in their heart.
  • Fungible weapons.  Weapons sold to one group or nation cannot be controlled when alliances change, those nations/groups are defeated in war, or are rife with poverty, corruption, or disloyal patriots. 
  • Technological advances effect 4 treaty categories differently:  There are four basic treaty types:  Arms control, Economic, Environment, and Human Rights.  In general, Tech advances are making it more difficult to detect violations in arms control and economic treaties. But the same tech advances are making it easier to detect and track violations in human rights and environmental treaties.  Given the urgency, limited time, and scarce financial resources — it seems prudent to invest most heavily in supporting enforceable human rights and environmental efforts — and backing away from disarmament or economic control efforts that could potentially lead to war (Iraq, Iran, N. Korea…).
  • Democracy in decline:  Many democracies allied with the West have slipped into authoritarianism, including Thailand, the Philippines, and Turkey.  Nations that briefly flirted with greater openness, such as Egypt, Bahrain, and Malaysia, have decided democracy is too dangerous and have cracked down on dissents. Freedom House, a nonpartisan organization, says the level of freedom has declined in 105 countries over the past decade and advanced in just 61. Real or imagined cyber threats to elections.   Freedom house reported in early 2015 “a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2014,” the ninth straight year in which the organization has documented democratic back-sliding. The US spearheaded a democratic wave to oppose the Soviet Union but after Sept. 11, 2001 reverted to supporting dictatorships to defeat religious extremism. Efforts to democratize Afghanistan and Iraq have failed.  One might question if democracy really has universal appeal. Even US democracy has suffered under virtually unrestrained campaign financing, a constipated Congress, repressed voting, depressed voters, divided parties, economic inequality, and the national hypocrisy of starting wars, torture, assassinations by drone, minority profiling, and erosion of privacy.  Even the Arab Spring devolved into sectarian violence and/or authoritarian leaders. Even the great EU experiment is now threatened by economic inequalities, Islamic extremists, refugees, Russian belligerence, and nationalistic politics.  Last but not least the rise of China and the election of Donald Trump.
  • Freedom/human rights in decline: Fred Hiatt says in recent years, “the leading authoritarian powers of the world—China, Russia, and Iran—have tightened the screws at home while becoming far more aggressive beyond their boundaries.” They’ve turned the internet into “a weapon of control and chaos,” smothered free speech, and “formed a loose dictatorships’ alliance, working together to undermine and discredit the principles of liberal economics and individual rights.” 
  • Objective truth is in decline:  Both liberal and conservative intellectuals discount everything reported in “the mainstream media” while conspiracy theorists on both sides help destroy the concept of objective knowable facts.  We increasingly distrust media gate keepers, polls, scientific studies or school book history.  No fix is in sight and the inevitable evolution of deep fakes suggest its going to get much worse.
  • Militarized police.  Increased likelihood of collateral damage, accidents, community violence in resistance to police operations.  Excess military tools provided to local police departments, particularly those coming up against drug gangs with money and motive to buy the most powerful weapons it can find.  And even profit from reselling them to anyone with the money.  
  • Problems are increasingly systemic – not direct.  Independent nations and agencies are incapable of addressing global or even national systemic problems.  ‘War’ is viewed as a direct problem but is in fact a systemic problem that weapons and government bureaucracy cannot resolve without a just justice system.
  • Bureaucratic systems:   Bureaucratic weapons procurement procedures and burdensome regulations and safety measures in weapons technology development cannot keep pace with terrorist’s capacity to adapt to each new technology, weapon system, policy strategy, or military tactic.    Personal empowerment technologies like the smart phone and the laptop can rapidly undermine a bureaucratic system.  Osama bin Laden used laptops and cellphones to guide a worldwide movement with no massive headquarters, virtually no paperwork, no military, and little bureaucracy.   ISIS and the Taliban continue to prove in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Mali that they can flex and mutate rapidly compared to the bureaucracy-bound Western coalition forces which can take months or years to agree on a ‘winning’ strategy or a new weapons system.  Al-Qaeda achieved military miracles by shredding bureaucracy.  Former CIA chief Michael Hayden said Al Qaeda is “a determined, adaptive enemy, unlike any our nation has ever faced.” When we raided al-Qaeda’s stronghold we found the secret—laptops and cellphones.  Bureaucracy drives up the costs and kills the flexibility in war fighting- as well as other key areas directly and indirectly related to national security.  Like health care, the justice system, corporate controls, education, and trade/travel.  Bureaucracy is too often painfully unresponsive to human needs — which compete financially with traditional national security expenditures.
  • Weaponization of Space: Satellite killers, proliferation of space junk, the Kessler Syndrome, and now a US Space force.
  • Peace is not the answer:  Most people say they want world peace.  But what they really want is to maximize their individual freedoms, security, and prosperity.   Maximizing freedom and security in an irreversibly interdependent world will require ‘justice for all’.  Enforcement of the UDHR or fully funding the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are the only comprehensive, cross cutting initiatives that the nations of the world have already agreed upon and focused on maximizing sustainable ‘liberty and justice for all’ but are woefully underfunded.  
  • Old ways die hard:  Listening to any serious professional discussion to effectively address threats to our freedom and/or security you will hear certain words and phrases frequently repeatedly.  They all point to two things.   These words are “comprehensive”, “wholistic”, “whole of government”, and “resilience.”  The first three words recognize the futility of using independent agencies or actions to address systemic problems.  The last word recognizes that unless we take such an approach to resolving these problems, we’d better get damn good at surviving and recovering from the consequences.  The most recent commission hearing uses these key words and phrases repeatedly.  It even contains a few more factors that could added to this evolving list.  

 

“What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.” ~ John Ruskin

Things change.  Can minds change?  In the Peace movement?   In Congress?  In the White House?  In the general public?  Can we become masters of our minds and do the right things?

SOLUTIONS:   

  • Resolving the Freedom/Security Dilemma requires the realization it is a Trilemma:  We assume without close examination that we can have freedom, security, and independence.  In reality, we can only have two and need to pick wisely.  (Hint: Independence is a mental construct that exists nowhere in the universe.   Security is desired but iffy.   Freedom is all we really have.  The freedom to do anything we want.  But we will NEVER be free of the consequences.)  UDHR reflects our interdependence and our need to be responsible for how we use our freedoms, if we desire security.  Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is the closest we will come to the global protection of human rights.
  • The Rule of Law vs the Lawlessness of War:  the force of law…or the law of force.  Supreme Court Justice Kennedy offered three basic elements necessary for the “rule of law” to be effective.  “First” he said, “the laws need to be made and enforced by a democratic process”. People want to participate in the rules they live by. But he insisted that was not enough.  “Second”, the laws must be “applied equally to everyone”. An effort of justice.   And last “the laws must be protective of a certain set of inalienable rights”. Rights that we have because we are born. Not because of sex, skin color, wealth, religion, ethic group, or nationality.

Conclusion: “Connect the dots!   See the web of life!   Ensure Justice for all.   Or, prepare for the catastrophic consequences.”

“The strength of a civilization is not measured by its ability to fight wars, but rather by its ability to prevent them.” –Gene Roddenberry

Key Resource Materials for understanding Threats to US national security and our freedoms. 

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
  • Presidential Commission on World Hunger 1980:   In the final analysis, unless Americans — as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world — place far higher priority on overcoming world hunger, its effects will no longer remain remote or unfamiliar.  Nor can we wait until we reach the brink of the precipice; the major actions required do not lend themselves to crisis planning, patchwork management, or emergency financing… The hour is late.  Age-old forces of poverty, disease, inequity, and hunger continue to challenge the world.  Our humanity demands that we act upon these challenges now…”
  • CISET report on New and Re-Emerging Infectious Disease threats:https://clinton1.nara.gov/White_House/EOP/OSTP/CISET/html/3.html(Newest report:BioSheild Hearing. 2-12-16: <

  • Confronting the Crisis on Global Governance by the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance (co-chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari).  
  • Global Catastrophic Risks 2018 
  • Over a dozen other (dust collecting) bipartisan commission reports on threats to US national security by various US Government agencies and nongovernmental think tanks are available upon request. Contact us here:  

Summary: Everything in our bodies, houses, cities, nation and world consist of, and relies on, physical systems and structures that are engineered and maintained by following fundamental principles or the laws of nature.  These systems and structures tend to function reliably well for extended periods of time and we too often take them for granted. 

The human mind residing within one structure (our brain) can be considered a physical ‘thing’ because it is entirely dependent upon most other body systems and structures working reasonably well.  And all of our bodies systems and structures likewise rely on a variety of both human engineered and natural systems and structures immediately around our bodies. 

Other systems and structures encompassing the rest of the world, solar system, and universe all interact with unavoidable impacts (solar energy, gravity, asteroids…).   We often take essentials for granted: clean air and water, safe sanitation, adequate nutrition, protection from the elements, and other threats to our body’s integrity like weightlessness or other human engineered systems and structures designed to kill us.

In this context our greatest threat now appears to the workings of our mind.  Its creative capacity has allowed us to visit the moon and return safely, to eradicated smallpox (the most lethal killer in the world) and compose symphonies and poems to move the soul. 

Unfortunately, that creativity is a double-edged sword.  It has also allowed us to create thoughts, ideas and alternative principles that have no helpful connection to reality, our physical existence, or our species survival.  For too long we have used such creative but harmful ideas to influence how we use our bodies and our resources.  Finally, we relate to the minds and bodies of others, as though they are separate from us.  We give them little consideration regarding the long-term consequences of our actions.

In this context, it should be ‘self-evident’ that – to the degree our thoughts and ideas jive with physical reality (the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God)– is the degree to which they are useful in avoiding the death of the body (and thus the mind) via any variety of systemic or structural failures at any level (cellular, organ, system, body, city, state, nation, world and beyond.  Systemic or structural failures at any level can have catastrophic consequences for us or anyone.  Consider the abuse of antibiotics, or the creation of a bioweapon.  

Thus, the degree to which our mind creates thoughts and ideas that do not correlate to the real physical world — and are given power, is the degree to which they become a detriment to the health and survival of the body, mind, home, city, nation, species and a more livable world.

National Defense Strategy:  NOVEMBER 27, 2018

The co-chairs of the National Defense Strategy Commission, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The two witnesses discussed the findings and recommendations of their commission’s final report. Mr. Edelman told members that the U.S. is “on the cusp of a national security emergency” due to declining military advantages and current global threats.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?455040-1/national-defense-strategy-chairs-warn-us-military-adequately-resourced 

Multiple uses of terms “whole of government, holistic, comprehensive….!!!

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Our future is in All of our hands

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