PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus


War by Chat Room by peaceprobe

Why I want you to read Wired for War: the Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P. W. Singer, The Penguin Press.  

In 1958 when I turned eighteen years old I went to what was called Portage County Selective Service office in Ravenna, Ohio to register for the military draft.  That board placed my name in the record as a conscientious objector which required very little paper work and I requested a student deferment.  The deferment was granted with little problem.  The Korean War had been over for several years but the Cold War was getting hotter all the time and Viet Nam was waiting in the wings.  Five years later in 1963 when I completed college and a year of seminary I was ready ”to do service” as we said then. I contacted the Selective Service to request permission to do my two years of alternate service in Viet Nam.  Again, no problem.  Two years later after very little communication or accountability to the board I was informed that I had completed my service obligations, meaning I would no longer be drafted.

Today the decision about participating in organized military violence is incredibly diffuse.  The long arm of military service reaches into every industrial sector, to contractors or subcontractors,  into educational institutions including high schools and think tanks.  Production of components for advanced navy, air or ground-based fighting takes place in most industrial areas.  Military contracts, sub contracts, sub sub contracts and consulting services pay well, and on time.  You can even become a highly paid modern mercenary, and guard supplies or provide specialized security by signing up with Blackwater or one of the other military security contractors.  No part of the military complex is more dispersed throughout industry than the development, production and maintenance of the thousands of digital systems that wire the new armed forces, guide robots in battle where they defuse explosive devices, collect pictures of the enemy, shoot at the enemy and directly bomb or shoot people from unmanned digitally controlled vehicles. 

Wired for War is not a 400-page book about how to lead a pacifist life.  It’s a book about how war and advanced killing is unfolding.  Singer tells us how the Talon robot “saves lives” by going places that are dangerous with its rapid fire gun, and how a warrior robot uncovers hidden roadside bombs.  He introduces us to unmanned submarines that are increasingly used in the most dangerous underwater situations, and insect-like bioinspired robots that can fly up to windowsills, perch and stare inside, climb up walls or even into pipes to look things over for security purposes.  And the revolution has only begun.  Someday, in this century wars could be fought by Terminator-like machines.  In fact, science fiction is here.
Singer, a Brookings Institution thinker and consultant for the departments State and Defense, CIA, and Congress, introduces us to the pilots, caretakers and commanders who are challenged to adjust their management ways, technical styles, and chat room manners to killing in the 21st century.  Singer frequently returns to the ethical questions of where the transition to digital warfare will take us.   He experiments with answers anchored in just war thinking.  The uninitiated will be introduced to the vigorous reflections on the meaning of robotics for management (read Generals), tactics and long term strategy in military journals.  He tells the reader that these new creatures or machines, already affect police work and hints that they will affect our larger culture in ways that will change us forever.  
In my growing to adulthood the process of becoming a conscientious objector, performing alternate service and getting on in life was clearer, easier, and more cut and dry than it had been almost any time before American history. I have been in countries where young people, usually males, are rounded up on the streets and pressed into military service.  By the time I had completed my alternate service there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans who found themselves in the throws of moral decision making about the Viet Nam war.  Their choices were – join the military and get it over, try to get classified as a conscientious objector and do alternate service (where you then had to prove you were doing it for religious reasons), go underground and just disappear (estimated 500,000 draft offenders), flee to another country like Canada where you may be welcomed (estimated 100,000), or prove to the military that you were too sick or disabled to serve.  
As the Viet Nam war unfolded the sleepy offices of the Selective Services where I moved through with nary a question were overwhelmed with petitions for exceptions.   Things eventually got so far out of hand that in1973 under President Nixon the draft was ended.  He had campaigned in 1968 to end the draft.  The draft really ended because of the expressions of moral discontent from young people aged 18-26. The political costs outweighed whatever military gains once thought to justify a draft.  The Selective Service System that administered the draft remains in place until now.  The powerful influence of those draft resisters forty years ago can provide inspiration and perhaps deeper insight into how we organize to resist war making in our new context.
The Selective Service Board and exchanges at their offices once served as a rite of passage for millions of youth like me.  My successors now entering the workforce are confronted with a plethora of decisions that will last a life time.  Are they assured that they have a support structure of friends, churches, instructors, chat rooms, mentors and even families to cheer them on? Choosing to be pacifist in all these life decisions can feel like one is saying “NO”, to many opportunities and perks and sometimes not even realizing there is a decision to be made.  
Our lives today are honeycombed with the tentacles of the military infrastructure and the choices are not very sweet.  The old one time decision to do alternate service is gone forever if it ever really existed.  Today being pacifist is an exercise in repeated examination of industrial products, taxes, consumer goods and most of all the work place.  And, this is just the outward journey, a walk that only makes sense if there is an inward journey of the spirit that informs our hope for the wholeness of all things.  This complexity would have completely overwhelmed me as a young man 50 years ago.  This is why all of us are invited to take responsibility to investigate and help sort this out.  
War by Chat Room
Why I want you to read Wired for War: the Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P. W. Singer, The Penguin Press.  
In 1958 when I turned eighteen years old I went to what was called Portage County Selective Service office in Ravenna, Ohio to register for the military draft.  That board placed my name in the record as a conscientious objector which required very little paper work and I requested a student deferment.  The deferment was granted with little problem.  The Korean War had been over for several years but the Cold War was getting hotter all the time and Viet Nam was waiting in the wings.  Five years later in 1963 when I completed college and a year of seminary I was ready ”to do service” as we said then. I contacted the Selective Service to request permission to do my two years of alternate service in Viet Nam.  Again, no problem.  Two years later after very little communication or accountability to the board I was informed that I had completed my service obligations, meaning I would no longer be drafted.
Today the decision about participating in organized military violence is incredibly diffuse.  The long arm of military service reaches into every industrial sector, to contractors or subcontractors,  into educational institutions including high schools and think tanks.  Production of components for advanced navy, air or ground-based fighting takes place in most industrial areas.  Military contracts, sub contracts, sub sub contracts and consulting services pay well, and on time.  You can even become a highly paid modern mercenary ( http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=War_profiteering ), and guard supplies or provide specialized security by signing up with Blackwater or one of the other military security contractors.  No part of the military complex is more dispersed throughout industry than the development, production and maintenance of the thousands of digital systems that wire the new armed forces, guide robots in battle where they defuse explosive devices, collect pictures of the enemy, shoot at the enemy and directly bomb or shoot people from unmanned digitally controlled vehicles. 
Wired for War is not a 400-page book about how to lead a pacifist life.  It’s a book about how war and advanced killing is unfolding.  Singer tells us how the Talon robot “saves lives” by going places that are dangerous with its rapid fire gun, and how a warrior robot uncovers hidden roadside bombs.  He introduces us to unmanned submarines that are increasingly used in the most dangerous underwater situations, and insect-like bioinspired robots that can fly up to windowsills, perch and stare inside, climb up walls or even into pipes to look things over for security purposes.  And the revolution has only begun.  Someday, in this century wars could be fought by Terminator-like machines.  In fact, science fiction is here.
Singer, a Brookings Institution thinker and consultant for the departments State and Defense, CIA, and Congress, introduces us to the pilots, caretakers and commanders who are challenged to adjust their management ways, technical styles, and chat room manners to killing in the 21st century.  Singer frequently returns to the ethical questions of where the transition to digital warfare will take us.   He experiments with answers anchored in just war thinking.  The uninitiated will be introduced to the vigorous reflections on the meaning of robotics for management (read Generals), tactics and long term strategy in military journals.  He tells the reader that these new creatures or machines, already affect police work and hints that they will affect our larger culture in ways that will change us forever.  
In my growing to adulthood the process of becoming a conscientious objector, performing alternate service and getting on in life was clearer, easier, and more cut and dry than it had been almost any time before American history. I have been in countries where young people, usually males, are rounded up on the streets and pressed into military service.  By the time I had completed my alternate service there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans who found themselves in the throws of moral decision making about the Viet Nam war.  Their choices were – join the military and get it over, try to get classified as a conscientious objector and do alternate service (where you then had to prove you were doing it for religious reasons), go underground and just disappear (estimated 500,000 draft offenders), flee to another country like Canada where you may be welcomed (estimated 100,000), or prove to the military that you were too sick or disabled to serve.  
As the Viet Nam war unfolded the sleepy offices of the Selective Services where I moved through with nary a question were overwhelmed with petitions for exceptions.   Things eventually got so far out of hand that in1973 under President Nixon the draft was ended.  He had campaigned in 1968 to end the draft.  The draft really ended because of the expressions of moral discontent from young people aged 18-26. The political costs outweighed whatever military gains once thought to justify a draft.  The Selective Service System that administered the draft remains in place until now.  The powerful influence of those draft resisters forty years ago can provide inspiration and perhaps deeper insight into how we organize to resist war making in our new context.
The Selective Service Board and exchanges at their offices once served as a rite of passage for millions of youth like me.  My successors now entering the workforce are confronted with a plethora of decisions that will last a life time.  Are they assured that they have a support structure of friends, churches, instructors, chat rooms, mentors and even families to cheer them on? Choosing to be pacifist in all these life decisions can feel like one is saying “NO”, to many opportunities and perks and sometimes not even realizing there is a decision to be made.  
Our lives today are honeycombed with the tentacles of the military infrastructure and the choices are not very sweet.  The old one time decision to do alternate service is gone forever if it ever really existed.  Today being pacifist is an exercise in repeated examination of industrial products, taxes, consumer goods and most of all the work place.  And, this is just the outward journey, a walk that only makes sense if there is an inward journey of the spirit that informs our hope for the wholeness of all things.  This complexity would have completely overwhelmed me as a young man 50 years ago.  This is why all of us are invited to take responsibility to investigate and help sort this out.  

Wired for War is not a 400-page book about how to lead a pacifist life.  It’s a book about how war and advanced killing is unfolding.  Singer tells us how the Talon robot “saves lives” by going places that are dangerous with its rapid fire gun, and how a warrior robot uncovers hidden roadside bombs.  He introduces us to unmanned submarines that are increasingly used in the most dangerous underwater situations, and insect-like bioinspired robots that can fly up to windowsills, perch and stare inside, climb up walls or even into pipes to look things over for security purposes.  And the revolution has only begun.  Someday, in this century wars could be fought by Terminator-like machines.  In fact, science fiction is here.

Singer, a Brookings Institution thinker and consultant for the departments State and Defense, CIA, and Congress, introduces us to the pilots, caretakers and commanders who are challenged to adjust their management ways, technical styles, and chat room manners to killing in the 21st century.  Singer frequently returns to the ethical questions of where the transition to digital warfare will take us.   He experiments with answers anchored in just war thinking.  The uninitiated will be introduced to the vigorous reflections on the meaning of robotics for management (read Generals), tactics and long term strategy in military journals.  He tells the reader that these new creatures or machines, already affect police work and hints that they will affect our larger culture in ways that will change us forever.  

In my growing to adulthood the process of becoming a conscientious objector, performing alternate service and getting on in life was clearer, easier, and more cut and dry than it had been almost any time before American history. I have been in countries where young people, usually males, are rounded up on the streets and pressed into military service.  By the time I had completed my alternate service there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans who found themselves in the throes of moral decision making about the Viet Nam war.  Their choices were – join the military and get it over, try to get classified as a conscientious objector and do alternate service (where you then had to prove you were doing it for religious reasons), go underground and just disappear (estimated 500,000 draft offenders), flee to another country like Canada where you may be welcomed (estimated 100,000), or prove to the military that you were too sick or disabled to serve.  

As the Viet Nam war unfolded the sleepy offices of the Selective Services where I moved through with nary a question were overwhelmed with petitions for exceptions.   Things eventually got so far out of hand that in1973 under President Nixon the draft was ended.  He had campaigned in 1968 to end the draft.  The draft really ended because of the expressions of moral discontent from young people aged 18-26. The political costs outweighed whatever military gains once thought to justify a draft.  The Selective Service System that administered the draft remains in place until now.  The powerful influence of those draft resisters forty years ago can provide inspiration and perhaps deeper insight into how we organize to resist war making in our new context.

The Selective Service Board and exchanges at their offices once served as a rite of passage for millions of youth like me.  My successors now entering the workforce are confronted with a plethora of decisions that will last a life time.  Are they assured that they have a support structure of friends, churches, instructors, chat rooms, mentors and even families to cheer them on? Choosing to be pacifist in all these life decisions can feel like one is saying “NO”, to many opportunities and perks and sometimes not even realizing there is a decision to be made.  . 

Our lives today are honeycombed with the tentacles of the military infrastructure and the choices are not very sweet.  The old one time decision to do alternate service is gone forever if it ever really existed.  Today being pacifist is an exercise in repeated examination of industrial products, taxes, consumer goods and most of all the work place.  And, this is just the outward journey, a walk that only makes sense if there is an inward journey of the spirit that informs our hope for the wholeness of all things.  This complexity would have completely overwhelmed me as a young man 50 years ago.  This is why all of us are invited to take responsibility to investigate and help sort this out.

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1 Comment so far
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Listen http://www.hereandnow.org/#4
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAV’s, is becoming increasingly controversial. U.S. military leaders say the robotic drone aircraft have been effective in killing Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan without putting U.S. troops in danger. But what happens when civilians die too? Our guest is Peter Singer http://www.brookings.edu/experts/s/singerp.aspx , senior fellow and director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution; he’s also author “Wired for War http://www.brookings.edu/experts/s/singerp.aspx : The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.”

http://www.hereandnow.org/2009/05/rundown-58/

referenced by Jim Satterwhite

Comment by peaceprobe




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