combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 01 Number 01 Winter ©Jan 2003

The Ultimate Weapon

Men subsequently put whatever is newly learned or experienced to use as a plowshare, perhaps even as a weapon: but women immediately include it among their ornaments.
by Friedrich W. Nietzsche, aphorism 290, Mixed Opinions and Maxims (1879).

Have you noticed how the people who always want to ban the bomb, to save the children, and to rescue the afflicted from themselves are among the most fervid hate mongers?! Have you noticed that the social reformers, who proselytize unconditional love, fund their conscientious objections with the marketing of violent and exploitative entertainments?! Have you noticed that the role models depicted in modern morality plays are anti-heroic; and the only distinction between Good and Evil is intent?! Like all good little brain-washed automata, these promoters and purveyors don't seem to find contradictory concepts as disturbing as conflicting ideologies.

Doing impossible things before breakfast is seemingly an ideal for devotees of revolutionary struggle. Their earnest exertions on behalf of the innocent and powerless victims of a cruel hegemony perpetrating profitable insensitivity is misplaced and misdirected due to a fundamental misunderstanding. Their struggle to remedy and rectify the world that people have built occurs within the larger natural world ... with the erroneous presumption that Humanism is in harmony with the Universe. With the displacement of God by Science, and the alleged perfectibility of Eutopia, the distinctions between mind and matter, between imagination and actualization, between spiritual and corporeal is becoming more inexact. The ultimate test of the validity of the virtual rules governing the Labyrinth, of the synthetic codes regulating The Castle, is whether they pertain to the greater Reality. Reduced to their ultimate, universal laws are not artificial. The fact of the matter is that, despite all the silly little laws designed to reconstitute human nature, every person executed in Virtual Reality is really dead ... totally and permanently.

No one knows whether the first stone tools were also weapons; but the evolution of weaponry clearly demonstrates that implements were adopted and adapted as weapons. This necessary, though sometimes anomalous, accommodation to technology links the Fakir's yo-yo to the Frisbee grenade. Because anything can be a weapon, the greatest impetus to the development of unarmed combat (or martial arts) techniques was the restriction on private ownership of weapons ... the ancient equivalent of gun control. The old debates over authority and license are not unlike the new arguments over freedom and rights; but there is a truism about war: when the shooting starts, the talking stops. Everyone who has ever borne a weapon with lethal intent has felt justified or warranted, if not ordained by celestial mandate; which devolves to an armed neutrality at best.

The idealists of the CounterCultural Revolution believed that love could conquer hate, that Platonic education would defeat Aristotelian logic, and that charity would eradicate deprivation. They believed that non-violence was a form of noble judo that would master ignoble violence. They believed they could reform a war culture by excising bad words and bad things from the body politic ... not unlike Hate Speech legislation, and religious banishment of Evil. Some sincerely tried; and some are still trying to live alternative lifestyles. Such purblindness is a little like whistling in the dark ... they hypothesize that if they act like they are good, then no bad people with bad thoughts and bad words will use bad guns to hurt them. If they were honest with themselves, they discovered that a model community still generated all the classic sins, that forbidden words were substituted, and that absent weapons were simulated or re-invented!

The only legitimate response to the plaint about it doesn't have to be this way is the seemingly heartless but that's the way it is. The proposition that it's always been this way is as ridiculous as anything would be better than this. To contend that weapons don't cause war is beside the point ... because when they don't exist, they are invented. The intent of such inventions is often to end the war more quickly, to spare lives with a more devastating weapon. Horrendous weapons have even been invented to prevent war by making its execution unthinkable ... but no weapon has ever been made that was not eventually used.

No weapon has ever deterred a nation from war. Where there's a will to transgress, there's a way to commit mayhem. Every professional soldier knows that the best weapon in his arsenal is his mind. Propaganda and terrorism are such effective weapons because they take innocent items, such as pictures and poems, and make them explosive. If the war is worth waging, then even beauty and love can be made invasive and harmful. Weapons may not cause war, but neither do they cause peace. Weapons are indiscriminate in their destructions, and are no respecters of condition or orientation. Weapons cannot be recalled; and apologies after the fact are meaningless.

Because weapons are indiscriminate, the people who use them must be very discriminating. Just as the Code of Conduct was added to the military education of all trainees after the Korean War, so ethics were similarly added to the military law curriculum after the Vietnam War. The myth of the robotic soldier mindlessly obeying orders, or the rogue soldier recklessly disobeying orders, is debunked by the emphasis upon only complying with lawful orders. Soldiers are led by example, and they follow their leader willingly ... no armed combatant can be compelled to do anything against his will! Communism has declared that power comes out of the barrel of a gun, but it actually derives from the consent of the governed. As every corrupt ruler eventually learns, there is no threat or punishment that can quell the people once the final straw has been laid.

Discussion may only inform the ignorant and persuade the undecided, but this minority is often significantly decisive. Whether the propositions are contingent, exclusive, or compromised, the conference table must often be guarded so as to preserve the process and protect minority opinions. A great society may not be able to afford both guns and butter, but if it affords free speech and open worship to its denizens, then it must also include defenses. The sovereignty of government rests with the citizenry, so if the people don't want to loose the dogs of war, replete with every savage device and inhumane contrivance, then they need to employ their ultimate weapon: the ballot-box.

The infantry doesn't change. We're the only arm [of the military] where the weapon is the man himself.
by C.T. Shortis, British Major General of Infantry, New York Times (4 Feb 1985).

by Bock Pauldron
... who is a Vietnam War veteran, a social worker, and freelance writer; with works in professional journals and literary magazines.