Friday, April 27, 2007

Call for responsible warfare

Time was, the aim of war was to lay waste to as much of the enemy’s land as possible, to was as much of the countryside with the blood as you humanly could and to leave no construction unburnt. This was all well and good in the days before flying began, but the world is different now. Last year’s war zone is this year’s holiday destination.

And this happens quicker and quicker. It took many years for Vietnam and Korea to really appear on the holiday radar, but Croatia, Serbia, etc have appeared much quicker after their spots of bother.

Given this and that despite being this year’s enemy, your neighbour could be the next top holiday destination for your citizens, it’s important not to leave a lasting legacy in the form of land mines and unexploded bombs. It’s also important to leave infrastructure in place and to not destroy too many hotels.

Plus people’s attention spans are much shorter these days. No longer as a species could we stand for a 100-years’ war. We want a quick, spectacular surgical strike taking out a handful of strategic buildings, plus the odd hospital to keep the sceptics happy, all ending after a few short days with a truce-signing ceremony at which Ashlee Simpson or Justin Timberlake will sing.

This may sound facetious, but actually this is exactly what Sun Tzu talks about in his early Chinese classic, The Art of War. He said “Generally, in war the best policy is to take a state intact” adding, “thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle.” Almost exactly what I said. In fact the only difference is that at the truce-signing ceremony he wanted Coco Lee or Fish Leong to sing.

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