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Questions: It is recognized that history repeats itself. Yet, as a hopeless optimist and despite the seemingly cyclical nature of things, I do see bits of progress. Consider the transformation of Germany and Japan from sworn enemies to deeply cherished allies. Or even the cessation of war between Britain and France, the unification of Italy, etc. What caused these miracles to happen? More importantly, since we cannot predict new mechanisms of diplomacy, how can we create environments in which such "miracles" are more likely to arise? Much respect Mick. The fact that the west has so many wonderful philosopher military leaders is a true godsend and deeply comforting.

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In the cases of Germany and Japan, utter defeat and destruction of the home country lead by militarist ideology and occupation and re-education by the other side. Sadly, I don’t see that happening to Russia. The Ukraine War is much more likely to follow the other of the outline of the Iraq-Iran War or (best case scenario) Korean War.

The alliance of the UK and France was formed by a common enemy, like pretty much all alliances in human history.

The reunification of Italy and Germany by popular fervor for ethnic nationalism (which may cause many other problems).

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Thank you very much, General, for this interesting essay and also the several links to worthwhile references for further reading.

I am somewhat surprised, though, by your characterization of the search for technological advantage as mere pursuit of a chimerical silver bullet. It is most likely correct, especially when standing alone, that technology will not eliminate or replace the inevitable and necessary continuities of other domains in the historic practice of war that you have described.

However, it seems reasonably supported that well-employed or novel technologies can provide a significant multiplier-effect, giving amplification and leverage to those other critical continuities - at a minimum. With a technical advantage in battlefield optics, extended range munitions, targeting precision, reliable and secure communications, etc., a military force so equipped will see better, reach farther, and hit harder -- and all with greater coordination and resulting lethality.

So even if not immediately decisive, these fruits of techne nonetheless produce disrupting elements of unexpected friction to which the enemy must adapt, if possible, while at the same time enhancing one's own capacities for surprise, unity of will, steady leadership, and such.

I look forward to the next installments and trust they will be as thought provoking as this one.

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Thanks. Technologies are important. But as you point out, they need to be cleverly used in combination with different ideas and organisations. Tech-ideas-organisations is what I call 'the other trinity'.

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But that is true in all wars. Radar in WWII. The tank in WWI. The machine gun entering WWI. Etc. But no weapon or technology is a silver bullet that ends war without pain and sacrifice (the tank in WWI and atom bomb in WWII did hasten the end but didn’t change the inevitable outcomes).

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Yes indeed ... and this essential truism is precisely what underlies the notion of multiple relevant continuities that General Ryan is focusing attention on in this excellent article. I'm not sure how this point of emphasis of historical relevance addresses the salient point I suggest that technical advantage can provide a significant multiplier effect - and in different degrees over time and space - and thereby fundamentally alter the dynamics of combat by enhancing or degrading the respective force capacities.

This framing of the quest for technological advantage as a "silver bullet" ... a perfect all-encompassing solution with immediate decisive effect ... just seems to me a confusing and distractive red-herring argument. And in "truth" ... none of the other described continuities have this supposed mythical quality either.

Superior military leadership, for example, does not produce instantaneous or uniquely decisive results in war. This is equally true with other enduring continuities under discussion. These are all simply different domains that operate not only as enduring identifiable constants, but which also work together in some integrated fashion to realize the specified war objectives sooner rather than later and at less cost than that imposed on the enemy.

To my mind, the role of technological advantage fits better into this framework of analysis than into the magical solution construct that expects immediate overwhelming results and the elimination of pain or sacrifice.

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I'm no expert on tech advances in war, but I am put in mind of WWI Germany's first gas attack. A masterstroke of wiping out the enemy but failing to consider how one's own troops would advance into it or of considering, in the second gas attack, the wind blowing in the wrong direction.

Similarly in the US Civil War, blowing up the Petersburg trenches (cf. WWI) cleared away men and trenches, until you consider that advancing into a 50-foot deep hole troops can't get out of is just a turkey shoot for the enemy from the hole's rim.

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“However, the reality is that this war would be entirely recognisable to a soldier from the eastern or western fronts in Europe in World War Two”. A lot differentl actually and exponentially so if Putin splits an atom or two.

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You write, "Despite the best intentions of such writings, the reality is that our future is more likely to resemble the past. "

Apologies, but I have to argue with this also.

In the past we could create all kinds of chaos, then clean up the mess, try to learn the lessons, and proceed from there with more progress. This was possible because of the limited scale of the tools and weapons involved. That era is over. It ended at 8:15am on August 6 1945 over Hiroshima Japan.

As example, in WWII we could toss conventional explosives around with wild abandon, and it didn't collapse civilization because conventional explosives are horrible, but not of sufficient scale to end everything. WWIII would be very very different, as many have commented. The difference is obviously the scale of the weapons involved.

An accelerating knowledge explosion will be delivering ever more powerful tools and weapons to all of us, including violent men. We're either going to solve that problem and meet that challenge, or there isn't going to be a future worth living in.

The future is not going to be like the past. We can't just keep on doing what we've been doing, because we live in a very different environment today.


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You write, "In every age there are those who will seek to make the case that humans now, unlike their predecessors, are more enlightened and less likely to stumble into war. "

Apologies, but "humans" are not the problem. Male humans are the problem. Any honest observation quickly reveals that the overwhelming vast majority of violence at every level of society is committed by men.

This simple fact contains within it some very good news. Being able to pretty precisely identify the source of the problem helps us craft what could be a very effective solution. A world without men.

There's another pretty simple observation we can make. Conventional thinking which is generally considered realistic and reasonable, approved by experts, comfortable to the group consensus etc, has utterly failed to deliver the peace we want for many thousands of years. If we can face that fact honestly it should then become clear that the most promising place to look for solutions to violence is in the realm of unconventional ideas.

That obviously doesn't mean that therefore a "world without men" is the best unconventional idea. But it does mean that we should probably be looking at ideas of that scale, and ideas which the group consensus will at first reject with some enthusiasm. This is very simple. If conventional ideas could bring us peace, we'd already have it.

I'm up to page 13 on an article series on this very topic, a world without men as a path to world peace. Input and challenges are most welcome and appreciated, but only from those who can demonstrate that they've read at least some of the article series which they wish to comment upon.

Humans are not the problem. Weapons aren't the problem. Men are the problem.


As of Hiroshima and the dawn of the nuclear age, world peace is no longer optional. World peace has become a do or die mission, and we ignore that reality at our great peril.

Thanks for listening.

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Thanks, Mick, for this useful sorting out of 'there's nothing new under the sun' and 'a new thing has come to pass'.

Perhaps there are a few typos :--


on this plant. It may recede at times, such as in the wake of the Cold War. But

-- for 'this plant' read 'earth' or 'this planet'


Throughout history, clever tribal leaders and statemen have increased their

-- for 'statemen' read 'statesmen'


soldier from the eastern of western front in Europe in World War Two. Many

-- for 'of western' &c. read 'or western front in Europe during the Second World War'


recognisable to soldiers must further back in time.

-- for 'must' read 'much'

// end //

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Thank you!

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