Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27 2014: Tiny weeny things that fly and spy—and what such development signify. Incidentally, this nano drone isn’t American. It is the British PD-100 Black Hornet. Before long, it could equally well be Chinese or Iranian. So where are we going with all this?

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Army to test next generation nano drone PD-100 Black Hornet. Photo via Youtube

The trouble with weapons technology linked to globalization is that it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult to retain a technological advantage. No sooner do you come up with a new widget than the other guy seems to have it too—or, if he hasn’t quite got it yet, he soon will.

The key point is that you don’t retain a competitive advantage for long. Back in the days of the longbow, you could be ahead of the game for hundreds of years—as the English were with the longbow. Today—where some technologies are concerned—you’ll be fortunate to be in front for much longer than a year, and it could be merely a matter of months.

The next logical development from this trend is that the other guy will have the development first—and we’ll be playing catch-up.

All of that should be a strong argument in favor of world peace—but if you look at the Middle East, it seems fairly clear the locals haven’t got the memo.

Have we? Based upon our behavior since 9/11, it would seem not. In fact, we’ve been engaged in more military adventures than ever—with not much to show for it except a vast increase in our National Debt, and considerable political advantage for our enemies.

War has a close companion called Unintended Consequences we really need to get to know better. 

Where the U.S. is concerned—nuclear weapons apart—our military dominance is based upon the strength of our economy (which allows us to maintain a more powerful military than anyone else) linked to airpower. True, we have strong land forces and a formidable navy as well, but our edge comes from the air.

The not so good news is that we are losing our economic advantage at a fairly rapid rate—and doing very little about it—and our aerial superiority is no longer something we can take for granted. We will certainly retain air dominance in terms of aircraft for a considerable time to come (I won’t comment here on the cripplingly expensive and technologically challenged F-35), but that may well be of limited advantage if missile technology continues to improve. Consider what the Chinese are achieving with missiles. Consider what both the Russians and the Chinese have already achieved in space. Consider what military progress a slew of other unfriendly nations are making that we don’t know about—but can imagine.

Imagine what we can’t imagine.

“Make love not war” seems to make more and more sense to me. My books, being thrillers, tend to feature both.

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