-Z- (Z@Gundam.Com)
Sat, 22 Apr 2000 14:57:29 -0700

At 14:21 4/22/2000, you wrote:
>Actually, to clarify, the work in question I am referring to is THE ASH WAR,
>which you say suggested that we are rapidly approaching the time where we
>will outgrow war. Now, is his idea of outgrowing war simply the abandoning
>of any kind of conflict, or is it that military warfare will be gone, but
>wars will still exist, but on an entirely different level of "fighting?"
>(Perhaps a variation of the type above)

Competition and conflict will always be with us, although co-operation
among competitors is becoming more and more common in the business arena,
witness the many "strategic partnerships" between avowed competitors in the
computer industry.

THE ASH WAR contends that armed conflict will soon become a thing of the
past, because armed conflict will become doomed to failure. Competition
and conflict will continue, as that is human nature, but the means by which
competitors win or lose and conflicts are resolved will become "peaceful"
or nonviolent.

What Byzantine intrigues may arise to replace warfare in certain conflicts
is unclear, but consider how Microsoft became the Great Monopoly at the
expense of the former Great Monopoly, IBM. Big Blue owned it all, believed
everything was in the hardware and the software was something you gave away
to sweeten the deal. Now it's trying to reinvent itself as a software
company providing the same turnkey solutions that it once provided in
hardware. All along the way, both Microsoft and IBM have been dependent on
one another and have never gone head-to-head for all the marbles, OS/2
versus Windows notwithstanding.

It cost the entire output of a dozen farmers to put a single armed knight
in the field. A single missile can cost a million dollars a shot and you
can't even recover a portion of it for reuse as you could with a musket
ball. THE ASH WAR says that the cost of peace can make the cost of war
acceptable and so we maintain and use armies and weapons of great expense
as an alternative to, say, high unemployment and infant mortality. It then
goes on to show how war can be made so expensive that no one can afford to
divert pr commit the necessary resources to pursue it. The peaceful state
may be bad, but war is simply no longer a viable option.

Consider the problem of cheap and readily available handguns. What if we
all suddenly had equally cheap and readily available force fields? The
gun's not much of a threat now, so who'll want to buy one, even at a very
low price?

Okay, someone comes up with a new ammunition that penetrates the force
fields, but the new ammo is based on Helium-3 or Unobtainium -- an
incredibly rare material that can only be synthesized at incredible
expense. Your handgun's still cheap and readily available, but you
ammunition costs more than a hundred times its weight in gold. Yes, now
you can go out and mug someone, but the only people with enough money to
make mugging worthwhile will be either too well protected or beyond your
reach. And the only way you can prove that you can harm them -- everyone's
got the cheap and readily available shield -- is to expend one of your
precious superbullets. Even if you just steal all your ammo -- which is
going to be safeguarded just as if it were so many Hope diamonds -- your
chances of making a profit by mugging have become mighty slim indeed.


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