Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WEAPON OF THE WEEK FAD

A century ago DD did a column called Weapon of the Week for the Village Voice. (Select for early 2003-late 2002 to see it.)

It was built on the US fetish for weapons and devices and the reinforcing idea that they transform battle, making war a bloodless snap. Along for the ride is the wishful dream that the next best weapon to make war easy and remove Americans from its messy part is just around the corner. More tech means mitigation of fuss and we spend less in blood and treasure. Yes, that's sure worked well, an axiom proven by science.

In the intervening years, entire entertainment shows, magazines and news articles have been built upon this fancy. They're all the same. They cover the same weapons, the same robots. They send their reporters on the same vendor junkets and watch and replay the same arms manufacturing videos. If you get an erection watching little jumping robots, wee mechanized rolling things, varieties of computerized cluster bombs and guided weapons, you're in heaven.

But one thing anyone with common sense will have noticed, just from sticking around in real life, this: The United States is still in a war, one with no obvious end in sight against foes who have none of our technological magic.

In other words, the fetish for weapons and gadgets development has not been transformative. It just makes the US military carry around a lot more shit. It does not change the nature of conflict by any order of magnitude.

Nevertheless, the New York Times' Christopher Drew steps into the fray to serve up all the same sales pitches and fancy claims which were old on the Futureweapons TV show a couple years ago.

So what does such a story make you?

Another in a long line of junketeers (paid or unpaid) on the US DoD's tit, photographing and writing about soldiers standing around on some training ground watching their awkward little robots trundling about.

See here. How's that working out for us? Real damn good, obviously.

"The soldiers crouched beneath the blazing desert sun, waiting to burst into the villages in conditions similar to those they have encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan," begins the Times.

"A drone resembling a lawn mower engine was tested at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. But this time, they got some high-tech help in an exercise intended to prove that new devices operated by the soldiers themselves can make those harrowing missions less dangerous in the future. As the mock attack began on the sprawling military base here, tiny drones hovered overhead, peering through the windows to see insurgents gathered inside the houses. Small robots — like R2-D2 in 'Star Wars' — crawled through some of the doors, flashing back live video of the startled enemy’s positions. Electronic sensors placed nearby watched escape routes. And a battery of six-foot-high missiles stood at the ready farther out in the desert to destroy vehicles that tried to rush in to help the insurgents."

Effin-Ay! We'll really show 'em in Afghanistan next year, lads!

Look, lads, look! Our hovering robot!

How do you think it would do against a baseball bat?

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