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"War and Logic"

     "If we keep prying for the facts, and do our math problems
carefully and faithfully, and disseminate our conclusions
relentlessly, the logic of war will be exposed as not logical at
all, and then reasonable people of good will will be able to
steer our species in a new and wiser direction," he said, and
drank a glass of water.
     At one point in the late 1960's, it was costing the
government of the United States of America $346,000 per Viet Cong
killed.  Success in that war was measured by body counts.  We
were trying to kill them all, so that they'd stop fighting us,
and that's how much it was costing.  No one had figures on how
many new Viet Cong were brought into being by feelings of despair
or revenge caused by the violent death of each Viet Cong, but it
was suspected by some that the number was not zero.  
     Some wise persons way back then proposed that the way to
wage that war and end it successfully would have been to send
American 19-year-olds to Vietnam with a computer that would write
checks for $346,000.  Let the squad distribute the checks
randomly among the population of the country, North and South. 
The recipients would cease being "communists" immediately, even
if they had been inclined to be so before.  Likewise so would
their wives, children, brothers, sisters, uncles, in-laws and
friends.  All the slaughter could have been avoided and instead
of losing the war the USA would have won.
     Some years later, before all costs were in, someone
calculated that the quick and easy Falkland Islands War cost the
British $1,800,000 per inhabitant of those miserable islands. 
The war was over before anyone could seriously propose simply
distributing that money directly to the inhabitants and letting
them decide which country should colonize them, but it comes to
mind now.
     For many years the US government spent several billion
dollars each year, propping up the fourteen-family death-squad
government that the CIA liked in El Salvador.  The total
population of the country at that time was about two million.  So
we were spending several thousand dollars per person to prevent
the improvement of living conditions there.  It certainly does
seem now, with all this excellent hind-sight, that the money
would have been better spent, if it had been simply given to
those people, every man, woman and child, to do with what they
pleased.  The unofficial war, which is how we used the money, did
no lasting good for anyone at all, and the money is gone.
     Now we have new pressures to revive and go seriously to work
on what some of us thought had been rejected already as pure
poppycock -- Reagan's Star Wars scam.  They want sixty-one
billion dollars to "develop" the wherewithal to shoot down
incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles.  The enemy are the
"rogue states" of Cuba, North Korea, Libya, Iran and Iraq, none
of which have any intercontinental ballistic missiles. 
     North Korea has what it takes to reach an uninhabited island
in the Aleutians.  Idea!  And don't tell me to "be realistic."  I
am being realistic, and logical, too!  Rogue states aren't coming
with ICBM's.  If we insist on infuriating people to the extent
that they become "terrorists," they'll come with suitcase bombs,
or pick-up truck bombs.  So, let's spend sixty-one billion
dollars on repairing relations with these so-called rogue states.
     What could huge piles of American money do toward the
reunification of Korea?  The reason for the original division is
gone -- it was the old bad feeling between the USA and the USSR. 
Spend sixty-one billion to help the Koreans become all one
country once again.  Defuse that habit of enmity.  Germany is
doing it.  It would end up being cheaper than any war.
     Star Wars won't work anyway.  Suppose someone decides to
nuke the Pentagon with an ICBM.  They launch it.  Somewhere in
lower outer space, over Chicago, that great city, our Star Wars device
"intercepts" it.  That would not be like the State Police pulling
a speeder over on the freeway.  That would be more than a little
pop of light on a computer screen -- it would be a massive
explosion.  Where will all that radioactive debris go?  It will
be lethal for 250,000 years.  Is this really a good idea?
     Wouldn't it make more sense to spend the money -- money in
quantities like what which we're dishing out right now for war --
on "cultural exchange"?  Or on reparations for past misdeeds on
our part, in countries like Iran and Iraq and Libya?  Or on
serious attempts to "make friends," as kids used to say when
fighting no longer made sense?

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Copyright © 2000 Harry Willson

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