Masters of Arrogance

Americans tend to think we’ve got a hammerlock on everything–especially smarts and the market. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. In fact, sometimes our naive trust that we are the Masters of the Free Market actually reveals a stunning ignorance and lack of foresight.

Don’t believe me? Read this article from Newsweek:

“Defending against Drones: How Our New Favorite Weapon in the War on Terror Could Soon Be Turned against Us.”

Anyone reading the title should guess the gist of the article.

When something like this turns up in Newsweek, a mainstream, toe-in-the-water, general audience publication that requires perhaps a 10th grade reading level, it’s a safe bet that specialists and researchers have been aware of the problem for a long time.

In this case, the article mentions a study done by the U.S. Air Force that

concluded that similar systems are “an ideal platform” for dirty bombs containing radioactive, chemical, or biological weapons—the type of WMDs that terrorists are most likely to obtain.

Well, duh. This is NOT news, folks.

We’ve been assuming we were the Masters of the Universe for too long. Our hubris had to turn against us. Anyone who thinks our enemies are ignorant bumpkins who couldn’t possibly figure out how to design, build, and use high-tech weapons against us, needs to wake up. The US no longer has a hammerlock on robotics technology or science or much of anything. We’ve outsourced pretty much everything, including our good sense.

Don’t believe me? Read this from the same Newsweek article:

Already a growing number of American defense and technology firms rely on hardware from China and software from India, a clear security concern.

Outsourcing worried me even before the Black Beret incident of 2001. Anyone else remember that one?

You can buy the full military report from Storming Media, a reseller of Pentagon Reports. Or you can read about it here:
“Army Black-Beret Brouhaha Still Simmers”

If you don’t want to bother, here’s the short version: The Pentagon decided to outfit the whole US Army with black berets, and they contracted with China to manufacture them.

Those who set up the contract apparently saw their decision as the way of the free market. The Chinese-made black berets were, like, uh, cheaper. And they, like, uh, looked cool, so why not give them to everyone? Good marketing strategy for recruiters.

Those who had earned their black berets, American made ones at that, were not happy. When the bit about China came out, lots more people were unhappy. The beret contract was eventually pulled, but BUY AMERICAN is not the main point here.

The grim point from the abstract for the 2006 Pentagon report “Black Berets and the Berry Amendment: Politics, Parochialism, and the Press” remains and has become even more significant today:

[I]t shows how this one seminal event caused doubt about the Defense Logistic Agency’s ability to deliver goods in time of war.

Don’t worry about the foreign and homegrown terrorists who may well be building a drone in a garage in Indiana. Think nice thoughts about countries like China and India: the safety of our country may well depend upon their willingness to arm us.

Sleep well.



5 Responses to “Masters of Arrogance”

  1. Jesse Says:

    So what your implying is that because the US Army bought hats from China and pieces of hardware are assembled in other countries that our impending doom is coming. That the arrogant will be struck down by the usurpers. K. It is romantic. A very good conspiracy. Of course this will happen because Obama is President, yes? Or that it will be allowed to happen because the shady military industrial complex is rogue to the government and desires to throw “sheeple” under the buss so they can implement a martial solution? I especially loved the “drone-nuke” idea. Like a small blot of mustard, a zingy dash of common terror.

    But we have forgotten the actual logistical dilemmas and confused strategic military theory with covert operations. First of all drones are not off-the-shelf Radio Shack toys. There is counter measures built into the programming. Self-erasing drives, encrypted comsec, and lets not forget printed circuitboard technology. Replicable? Sure. But it would take robots to make the boards, sophisticated and expensive fabrication facilities for the aerospace bodies. Programmers, engineers and technicians. That takes education. Educated people demand alot of compensations. They also are less apt to fall into dogma. A balance wheel to tyranny, so to speak. Then there is the relay trucks, maitenance trucks, control rigs, sat-com. Unfortunately one can’t simply log in to “Google-earth”. Then the issue is the nuke itself. They are heavy. Radio Shack plane couldn’t carry one*frown*. To be ranged, fast and agile the outfit would almost be as big as a plane. This makes sense for strategic military theory. Unfortunately covert groups don’t want all the bulwark that would invariably result in discovery before the clandestine date. The “cell” theory revolves around uninformed groups. Small operatives with effective tactics.

    So, we all know the hardest security to breach is at the borders. Radio isotope sniffers, big brother gadgets and travellers wearing togas on airplanes. What still makes the most sense to carry out an attack is to assemble said weapon INSIDE the borders. Then one could spend 20k at John Elway Chevrolet on a private truck instead of millions for a stupid drone. Less money, less attention. More capital for future attacks. Is it not logical, then, that these advanced weapon systems be outsourced?

    I agree that the edge of advancement is a precarious thing. Simple business models demonstrate that. One cellphone gets a touch screen, then all the competitors have one. One nation invents a tank, then all nations have them. That is simply the way it has always been. Will we survive past the development of zero-point energy weapons or rail guns? Will Skynet kill us all? Who knows. I guess it all depends on wether you believe the common mob is inheirintly evil and how gullable it is.

  2. uncommonscolds Says:


    My guess is that any drones sent against us from within the US would be carrying dirty bombs rather than conventional nuclear weapons, However, as to the possibility of an actual suitcase nuke, here’s an article you might want to read:

    “Are Suitcase Bombs Possible?”

    This speculative article says, “It is reported that designs least as small as 105 mm (4.1 inches) are possible. A hypothetical 105 mm system developed for use in an artillery shell would be about 50 cm (20 inches) long and weigh around 20 kg.”

    Twenty kilos is under 50 pounds. I think a drone can handle that.


  3. babz Says:

    I THINK I can decode some of this comment from Jesse that 1: If something saves the US money in the long run, even if it’s not made here, that’s a good thing. 2: Having a drone factory in [place name redacted to avoid drone targeting–Cassandra] makes it too savory a target for the bad guys (better us than them) 3: Our military and their supersecret contractors are clever and trustworthy enough to ensure these war machine won’t fall into the wrong hands. 4: We deserve the best and brightest and if a company in another country is better than what they can drum up in the US, so what?

  4. uncommonscolds Says:

    Thanks, Babz. Now I’m really frightened for our country.

  5. Jesse Says:

    I had a good reposte but baby turned the ‘puter off. I know have a quarter taped over the pretty blue button. To be short. I agree with #2 and #4. #1 is debateable. #3 can involve a small novel in reply. Clever yes, trustworthy? Umm, not voluntarily. On another post I may fence on tactics.

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