“There’s a wonderful phrase: ‘the fog of war.’ What “the fog of war” means is: war is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.”
– Robert McNamara, “The Fog of War”
It’s somehow reassuring to know that Rolling Stone is still putting out some decent hard hitting articles. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the same magazine that featured the early works of Cameron Crowe and Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, currently has Jersey Shore reality show sensation Snooki straddling a rocket on it’s cover.
Thankfully, there are two excellent, recent articles that are intriguing glimpses into the terrible legacies of our current global conflicts. The first, more recent one concerns the so-called Afghan kill team, that went on search and destroy missions for innocent, unarmed civilians, often children. Read the complete article here.
The other article concerns two guys in their early 20s that practically became the largest international arms dealers in the world, while driving fast cars and chain smoking weed in Miami. While reading the article, I couldn’t help but think of recently arrested international arms dealer Viktour Bout. There’s a movie called Lord of War, in which Nicolas‘ Cage character is thought to be based on Bout’s life. It’s a good movie that reveals the complexities and staggering scope of the international arms race. In short, it’s big, and it’s a largely gray area. Read the entire article here.
The unfortunate reality is that the rules of combat are often the same as in arms dealing. They are flexible. They can be bent. The in-house term of preference is “circumvent”. But really, the worst thing that gets lost in the fog of war appears to be conscience. It seems to be disturbingly and completely absent from both the kill team and the gun runners.
The title and quote for this article stems from a fantastic documentary called The Fog of War which is an extended interview with former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates where he shares his lessons and insights on war. Scroll below for some highlights.