THE ART OF WAR

By: Ben H. English

The basic tactics and strategies of war have mostly remained the same throughout the history of mankind. Sun Tzu's stratagems in The Art of War are just as valid today as they were some 2500 years ago, due to the constancy and predictability of human nature.

But the weapons used continually change and evolve, and often enough come from tools which were not expressly developed for such. Others have a dual purpose, and can be used to promote peace and the general welfare as effectively as they can be used to defeat an enemy.

When the Japanese invaded Okinawa in 1609, the defeat of the Ryukyun natives was assured when their king ordered them not to resist. This led to the Shimazu Japanese policy of banning the ownership of any weapons by the Okinawans, which in turn led to their systematic abuse by the ruling foreigners.

These abuses led to a new system of fighting which made use of simple farmer's tools and other peaceful domestic implements. The Japanese learned the hard way these makeshift weapons could be employed with great effectiveness. This style of fighting became known as karate.

Dynamite, in the irony of ironies, was first developed by Swedish doctor Alfred Nobel for peaceful purposes. Dr. Nobel also owned the company known as Bofors, which moved from simple iron and steel products into the development of armaments. These armaments were so highly lethal that they were used by both sides during World War II. As you probably already know, this was the same Nobel who instituted and funded the Nobel Prizes.

This bastardization process continues through the present, and is now best illustrated in the fields of computers and robotics. Technology has always been a two-edged sword; a sword which has grown exponentially as mankind has sought more and more modern marvels to help salve his ancient ills.

Technology has no soul and no conscience, and it can be used either for you or against you with equally devastating efficiency. Like that two-edged sword, if you are going to have it you must learn to master it. Otherwise, someone else will and it will be to your detriment.

If we can master it and maintain the upper hand, we can deflect the murderous ambitions of rogue states such as Iran or organizations as Al Queda and the like. If not, we will in turn become hapless prey to those who run the gamut from simply malicious anarchists and hackers to others best defined as genocidal maniacs.

Somewhere afar off lies a future which will either be Star Trek or The Terminator in its content. Only time itself will frame this story as to whether we end up as our very own assassins.

The realists among us point out that so far, our collective track record is somewhat less than stellar.