Why Fund Expensive Weapons for Troops?

Dear Editor,

Recently I learned that my Great Grandfather was a soldier in the American Civil War.
The Civil War had no stealth bombers, no patriot missiles, no kevlar body armor, no computerized armored vehicles or attack helicopters. Yet evidence suggests that soldiers whose medal had been tested in the foxholes fought more valiantly than today's videogame smartbomb jockeys. Interestingly, when defense is discussed today there's no weapons system costly enough, no stealth bombers stealthy enough, and no missile defense that works despite it mega billion dollar price tag.
Instead we see cars with yellow ribbons to "Support Our Troops". We have seen defense contractors literally get contracts (Halliburton )to rebuild infrastucture with no bid contracts before our military had destroyed it in Iraq. We see chicken hawks demanding new and larger defense contracts. $420 Billion dollars is not enough. Yet we cannot defend ourselves from grandmothers with explosive vests.

Issues of defense can be addressed in a number of ways. David didn't need a stealth bomber to defeat Galiath. General Grant did need attack helecopters to defeat General Lee. Greed is usually associated with private sector defense contractors, but I contend that where greed actually resides.
Meanwhile there are thousands of kids around the world who would be happy to just get their hands on an AK-47. In many places in Africa they already have. Yet we are asked to spend more on defense? I fear that as we focus on weapons, we will loose our focus on combat. I also fear that as we continue to sow the seeds of discontentment in our defense contractors, that we will reap what we have sown for many defense budget cycles to come.
Our soldiers should be able to fight just as well with muskets and dry powder. When taxpayers send our troops out to fight and die, it shouldn't cost us an arm and a leg.


Cato said...

National defense is one of the very few things the government should be doing. And no, muskets and dry powder do not work. This wins "Most Asinine Statements Ever Made" Award.

He wants our boys to be in foxholes fighting with dry powder and muskets against automatic weapons? I didn't actually think that those delusional people on the right were actually right when they say there are people on the left that actually want our boys to die and loose.

Does this fellow know what the Battle of the Somme was?

Jesus tap dancing Christ.

GI Joe said...

Once we get them fitted with muskets, maybe we can train them on the playgrounds of all the one-room school houses that Lori Bernard is purposing we bring back. That would bring back the concept of the local militia and the furor of the 2nd Amendment would fade away.


Have you ever read the book Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond?

broken record said...

cato, please read the Bernard letter to the editor. Put it in perspective.
By the way, did you notice the latest charges on the borderline?
Roy S is now accused of some extramarital inuendo.
So, the response from the idiots when pressed on the gutless behavior of their nutless leader is an attack on someones personal life with out even acknowledging the misdeeds of CW.
Dean Knudson and other local leaders must just love having their name associated with garbage like this. Wasn't it Dean Knudson who has backed responsible campaigning practices and yet now allows his good friend Weese to post illegal "vote no" signs?
Anybody care to explain that?
Is Chris Kilber, founder of the otbl blog proud of himself?

Anonymous said...

Broken Record:

Is there any truth to the innuedos they are casting on the borderline? They are turning into virtual window peekers at OTBL.

Cato said...

I read it again, and he says that our boys rely too much on technology that keeps them from not dying and too much on technology that kills the enemies before they can kill our boys. He flat out says that they should use muskets and powder against automatic weapons and engage in trench warfare, which, if he had ever read a history book would know is the most asinine statement ever made. That's like Boxer Rebellion stupid. Actually the thinking is quite the same.

I own Guns, Germs, and Steel, along with Diamond's other books. A find it a nice bridge between my Stephen Jay Gould's books and my David McCullough's books and whatnot, bringing in history and biology.

GI Joe said...


ON Guns, Germs & Steel, a veteran of both Iraq Wars recommended that to me. He said it gives a picture-overview of war. Being that he is a military veteran will many years of service, I had asked him for recommendations of books about the current situation. He said any of those types of books just give a view from a single set of eyes that are usually only looking at a small piece of the pie. Another book he recommended was "Plagues and People." I haven't got to that yet.

I've read some of David Mc's stuff and think American Experience has been one of the best shows on TV for along time.

What books would you recommend by Gould? Along the same lines, any other books to recommend?

Cato said...

Gould is biology... unless you find it interesting, it would have to be his collection of essays that all I could "recommend". I personally am fascinated by evolutionary biology so I have the tome he wrote, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. But it is rather long. Furthermore most people lack scientific literacy (I would say I do and I know much more than most of the population but not nearly enough to consider myself "literate" in science) and wouldn't find it interesting as it would be a bore to read to those who were not even interested (and expensive to boot). However, his collection of essays -- which are the rest of his books mostly -- are quite interesting and entertaining reads. He even (correctly) lampoons Scalia in one of them. They are just a few pages long they give you glimpses into a wonderful mind.

I only mentioned him since Diamond is first and foremost a scientist -- he followed in Ernest Mayr's footsteps to study birds in New Zealand (Mayr was still writing books last I checked, although he was about 100 years old last I checked as well so he may have passed on. Brilliant man.). Diamond wrote a book called The Third Chimpanzee, which if you have not heard, introduces you to other aspects of evolution other than natural selection (like sexual selection) as no one theory correctly describes the fact of evolution but rather aspects of it (at least at this point). He has recently written Collapse which is also quite well done (although I find issue with some of it...) but I think Guns, Germs and Steel will live on far past Diamond as it is just a plain amazing book.

I read a lot of philosophy. Any philosophy. You don't have to agree with it, just read it. As Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it"

paperback writer said...


"cato, please read the Bernard letter to the editor. Put it in perspective."

I'll go a step further. Create a Word document with 2 columns. Paste this post on the right, the Lori Bernard letter on the left. Maybe then you'll "get" it.

Anonymous said...


Have you ever read any of Loren Eisley's writings? He looks into the areas of evolution and biology. In addition of a brilliant, well-respected scientist, he wal known from his creative, inventive prose.


Cato said...

Yes, I read it.

Had the letter to the editor been about teachers perhaps I could see how one could come up with this. But it was about facilities. If anything, "facilities" is akin to "the battlefield". It doesn't matter what the battlefield is like so long as you have the right tools to win the war. It doesn't matter what the facility is like so long as you have the right teachers to do their job.

AndyRand said...


Think of what you just said the next time your called upon to forge molton steel into a commodity, in you bathroom.

Give me a break, "facilities" is akin to "the battlefield". I think you just won a nomination for your own award.

Cato said...

No -- I said if anything parallels could be reached that is the only possible thing.

Both are locations or places.

Weapons are akin to teachers as they are both tools used to accomplish some task.

Please do not read any more into this than I said -- I am merely attempting to draw parallels that the author of "Why Fund Expensive Weapons for Troops" failed to realize himself.

One article dealt with a place and why people should focus on the tools -- not the place. The other one which I originally responded to dealt with tools and the author thought those tools to be useless. I didn't find it clever at all, since any sarcasm by the response letter was lost after the responder made a very terrible analogy that really didn't fit. At all.

AndyRand said...


I think the writer's analogy though maybe not clever is appropriate.

When someone insinuates that we should return to the one room school house to educate kids, suggesting we return to a previous historic state of warfare is equally stupid. That's the point.

What good have all the high budget, high tech weapons done when it comes to fighting a guerrilla war? They're a waste of money exponentially greater than a decent school.

Cato said...

So should we nuke Iraq then? The nukes are just going to waste sitting in North Dakota fields.

The analogy is not clever nor appropriate. I think I explained clearly why. The original article did not suggest to move back to one-room school houses. The original article pointed out that they used to have them and that we should not be so damn concerned about facilities when decent teachers are what kids desperately need, not a prettier or larger school.

AndyRand said...


"decent teachers are what kids desperately need, not a prettier or larger school."

Great "market based argument" for paying teachers more.

Funny how all the Banks in town couldn't do the same business from their garages?

Cato said...

I never said that's my position.

You can learn things anywhere. You need to store valuables in a vault.


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