Michael H Goldhaber on Tue, 9 Mar 2010 05:19:16 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> A scenario for World War III

On Mar 7, 2010, at 1:56 PM, Brian Holmes wrote:

> Michael H Goldhaber wrote:
>> Neither China, Russia nor the US or Europe has the number of large
>> families willing to surrender a substantial proportion of their
>> children as cannon fodder, which was not the case a few generations
>> ago.
> A look into the robotics labs of any major research university
> (UCSD is a good place to start) will reveal the possible answer to
> this objection, already concretized in drone warfare and soon to
> be visible in the form of autonomous vehicles patrolling wartorn
> streets. The awful thing about war is that it can be used as a way
> to impose central economic planning, the very trick the US learned
> in WWII and has applied since then via Korea, Vietnam, Star Wars
> and Iraq/Afghanistan/Terrorstan. Since the 1970s the theater of
> economically profitable warfare has been displaced from Asia to the
> Middle East. This is the nightmare scenario for me: proxy robot war
> in the Middle East. This would be the culmination and decline of an
> ill-fated Information Age.

At least dating back to Vietnam, the main justification for ongoing American Wars have been the necessity of "supporting our troops," and not wasting the lives that have already been lost. Doing that with robots alone seems fairly difficult, and the robots are not, as yet, cheap. By the time they are cheap, other countries will be able to afford them too, and a robot-against-robot war would be mutually destructive but otherwise unavailing. The supposed moral value of war would be lost. Kin particular, it could not be used as a tool to unify an otherwise fractious nation.

>> Cultures will compete in something more akin to a global version of
>> American Idol.
> I think the above idea went out of fashion after 9/11. It was known
> before then as the end of history.

Btian, if you recall what I have written over the years on this site and elsewhere, and alluded to again  in my post in response to Keith,  how can you associate my thought with the  "end of history?" In fact my thought is quite distinct, namely that wars across national boundaries were a particular instance of the working out of the capitalist nation-state, in an era which is now coming to a close, rapidly being replaced by a new kind of economy for which wars of the old kind are no longer useful, and killing is successful only as a form of attention-getting. History isn't ending at all.  I will have to write some more about how things like the  tea parties fit into all this, but to apply the old label of fascism to  the latter seems to me convenient but quite ignoring its overwhelmingly performative and anti-strongman character.  

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