How far will we compromise?
By Antony Deaker
I have enjoyed thinking about Derek Onley's opinion piece in last month's Blueskin News – large spurious photo of military hardware and all.
First reaction was 'yeah, fair call'. Although it's a tenuous link, the BRCT project to develop a wind cluster could be connected to the military industrial complex if they go with a Windflow turbine. Not a great look.
Then I started thinking that Derek's position starts half way down a slippery slope. I don't know what petrol he puts in his car but I can't think of an ethical option for that. Then I thought about his car which is a small and efficient Hyundai, probably perfect for their needs but a quick Google search reveals that Hyundai produces frigates for the South Korean navy. Then I Googled Derek and saw that he contracts to Roger Belton, the guy who harvests tonnes of cockles from the bay. Then I thought about going online to research this stuff in the first place and remembered that the internet was initially developed by and for the US military.
At this point, I thought my answer to Derek's rhetorical question about how much are we willing to compromise, would be 'the same level as you Derek'. Then I thought that none of this diminishes my respect for Derek because I know he does many very good things, we have mutual friends that are cool people, and we always have friendly chats when we bump into each other.
Then I started thinking about what is the point Derek is trying to make? Is he saying that the civilian use of innovations and technology developed in the military industrial complex or civilian engagement with the companies that produce this stuff starts wars or prolongs wars leading to more deaths and damage?
The military are possibly one of the leading sources of innovation, they've got the budget to develop fantastical things for all the wrong reasons.
We can thank the military for diverse things like GPS systems, ambulances, radar and sonar, canned food, wristwatches, weather forecasts and MDMA ecstasy developed by the Germans in WW1. Right now, the US military is working urgently on reducing its reliance on oil, which will also flow through to civilian application. This is not in response to Peak Oil but rather its vulnerability to long supply lines such as with trucking oil through Pakistan to its bases in Afghanistan.
In a perverse sort of a way I think it is our duty to use such research and development for better uses than the military will.
I am not totally convinced by this line of thought and recognise that the military industrial complex wields significant unhelpful self-interested political influence.
However, I would have thought the real cause of wars and failure to stop wars that are already underway is inflexible men. So far I can only think of Maggie Thatcher as an exception to this. By far the great majority of wars are started by men who think they have the right and the need to appear 'strong', in other words inflexible, they will be driven by some dogma and or neurotic personality trait.
So my response to Derek's article is a call to men and the odd woman to sharpen up their team building, negotiating and collaboration skills, to forget the sad idea that strength is not giving way and to resolve neuroses. I'll start with mine.
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