War: An Owner’s Manual — Chapter 1

Canadian_Mounted_Rifles_posterIn order to understand your military and know whether it is operating properly you need to know why you have one.

This isn’t a vague philosophical question whose answer is inevitably “End war now.” I, along with every soldier I’ve ever met, would love to live in a world without war. Unfortunately we don’t. The question of why we have a military is actually a very important real-world question which the Pentagon itself asks and then answers every four years in its Quadrennial Defense Review.

In order to figure out how many of those tanks, sailors, nuclear war heads, fighters etc., we have to answer one very simple and complex question: What do we want the military[1] to do?

The answer at first seems obvious. Nations have militaries in order to protect themselves, right? That’s part of it, but what is it protecting us from? In some cases this is easy to determine. Israel, for example, needs protecting from neighboring states which would like it cease existing. India wants its military to protect it from its neighbors to the north, Pakistan and China, as well as rebellious groups which pop-up from time to time.

Defining protection can be quite complex and India is a perfect example of this. India has at different times fought with both Pakistan and over control of some or all of India’s northern province of Kashmir, which borders the other two nations. What’s odd about that is there is little there to fight over. Kashmir consists mostly of a part of the Himalayan Mountains. It is a beautiful, inhospitable area. It’s barely populated and so far few, if any, valuable resources have been discovered there. Not only is there little if any reason to fight over Kashmir, it is also a terrible place for military operations. It is distant from everywhere, making resupply difficult even for the nations bordering it. With the possible exceptions of the South Pole and Siberia in mid-winter, it is likely the most difficult place on the planet to conduct a war. Not that has stopped any of the three nations from trying. To this day, the armies of India and Pakistan occasionally fire artillery shells at each other just to see if anyone is paying attention.

You get the feeling that the nations themselves know this. Consider the war between India and China in 1962. It lasted about a month and resulted in about 2,000 deaths. The cause both sides claimed to be fighting for was territory, a resource both nations have in abundance.

In which case, why did they fight? At the time of the war both nations were relatively young as independent, unified political entities. India had become a free nation in 1947 when the British, who had ruled India as a colony for more than a century, handed control of the government to the indigenous people. China had become a nation united under a government of its own people at roughly the same time, after the Communists kicked out the Japanese, the Nationalists and the various colonial powers which had controlled the nation for the past century.  In 1962, China was perceived as having an expansionist foreign policy because it had conquered Tibet a few years earlier. Just before the conflict the Indian government set up some border posts on parts of the land no one really wanted but which the Chinese considered to be on their side of the border. So China attacked in order to push them back to the correct part of the land no one really wanted. In other words, two young nations/governments wanted to prove that they couldn’t just be pushed around and so 2,000 people died.[2], [3]

So we can see from this example that militaries are not just used for protection.

Certainly directly protecting the borders of the nation isn’t why the United States has such an enormous military. The U.S. is ideally situated defensively. In the east and west two oceans separate it from the rest of the world. Its two other borders are with Canada and Mexico, neither one of which have ever posed even a nominal military threat to the nation. It has been 200 years since a foreign power directly invaded the U.S.[4] The only real direct threat to the nation’s existence was 150 years ago and that came from other Americans. It is this splendid geographic position that has allowed the U.S. to develop almost entirely unmolested by nations which were much more powerful than we were for the first 150 years or so of our history as a nation.

Although national security is frequently cited when justifying the huge amount we spend on the military all it would take to defend our borders is our nuclear submarine fleet to deter anyone from launching a nuclear strike against us, a few warships to help protect our import and export capabilities[5] or attacking us at sea, some fighters and bombers and a land force perhaps the size of the Marine Corps. Except for the nuclear weapons the military would then be reduced to size and role it had prior to both World Wars I and II.

The other reason that nations in general – and our nation in particular – have militaries is to prevent other nations from telling us what to do and get them to do what we want. To understand how this works it’s necessary to look a little deeper at what war is and what it is that nations get from it.

onwarWe will begin with a book called On War by Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian officer who fought in the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Clausewitz lived during the Enlightenment, a European intellectual movement which hoped to wean society from irrational beliefs and superstitions.  This movement came about as part of the great scientific revolution which happened at the same time. The Enlightenment was, among many other things, an attempt to apply the scientific method to how people thought and acted and especially to their philosophies. In On War, Clausewitz tried to examine and define the theory of war; to look at the why of it and determine what, if any, universal rules and laws it operates under.[6]

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Japanese PSA explaining Nuke disaster for kids is a whole new level of weird

Video featuring cute characters trying to avert nuclear disaster. The explanation of Chernobyl Boy is especially notable.

Because nothing in Japan is allowed to happen without its own cute icon.

Thinking of Totoro as the situation worsens

Totoro_normal

“May you live in interesting times.” – Ancient Chinese curse.

How to help – a list of organizations

CNN proves BBC America is a great news source

The 6:30 AM news update on CNN started with Japan followed by the latest on Charlie Sheen. Click here for BBC World News America.

CNN fail

Image courtesy of the Great Gregory Marlowe

BBC

Japan launches anime series with fetishized school girls explaining the management theories of Peter Drucker

MoshidoraThe series is an animated adaptation of Natsumi Iwasaki‘s business novel Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no Management o Yondara which translates into "If A Female High School Baseball Team Manager Read Drucker’s ‘Management’…" The original book has sold 1.3 MILLION copies in J-land. The novel is about

a high school girl named Minami Kawashima who becomes the baseball team manager at Tokyo’s Hodokubo High School. Minami accidentally buys Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices — a classic productivity guide by the Austrian-American management guru Peter Drucker — and uses it to rally her dispirited team.

<<Slaps self in head>>Why didn’t I think of writing that?

Because that title is a bit long, the anime will be known as Moshi-dora [もしドラ]. Moshi-Dora is such a phenomenon that its title is #32 on a list of the year’s Top 60 Japanese words and phrases. (In case you were wondering, #1 is “~zeyo!: One symptom of this year’s widespread Ryōma Sakamoto fever is the tendency to emulate the 19th-century samurai’s Tosa dialect by finishing sentences with an emphatic ~zeyo!” I want to live in a nation that gets this obsessed with an 18th century revolutionary. Anyone care to join me in creating a pop-culture movement about Garibaldi? Don’t all hold your hands up at once, now.) Here’s a link to the official website which Google offered to translate and, when I clicked yes, rendered the page in Kanji.

Below is the promotional video. My ignorance of the Japanese language didn’t impair my enjoyment at all.

 

I’m going right out and buying the animation rights for Who Moved My Cheese and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I’ll be damned if this isn’t the weirdest thing to come out of Japan since Calamari Wrestler.

A character based on a pastry is killing Hello Kitty

anpanmanI just don’t want to live in a world without a nation as weird as Japan – and thankfully I don’t have to. Where else but Japan would you encounter Anpanman, which the NYT says is “a character that is based on a Japanese jam-filled pastry and is produced by Nippon Television”? (Dear NYT: An Anpan is filled with bean paste, not jam.) Further, where else would Jelly Donut Man be the best-selling character image in a nation obsessed with the images of cute cartoon characters?

According to the Tokyo-based research firm Character Databank (!!!!), Anpanman’s image is outselling the perennial powerhouse Pokémon and the rapidly fading Hello Kitty. This is quite a blow for Sanrio’s Kitty, who invented the category of cute characters created solely to sell product. Kitty is also facing challenge from two newcomers the panda Tarepanda, and Rilakkuma (“Relaxing bear.”FYI,  Rilakkuma has a sidekick Korilakkuma whose name translates into, and I’m not making this up, “co-relaxing bear.”) — which has charged up the Character Databank charts and ranks fifth in the latest survey.

As an aside (isn’t this whole blog an aside?) it is interesting to note Hello Kitty lost her long-held spot as Japan’s top-grossing character in 2002 and has never recovered. That is the same year that Mrs. CollateralDamage made her pilgrimage to Sanrio Purio Land, the HK theme park near Tokyo. Coincidence? I report. You decide.

 

Godzilla is official spokesmonster for Cup Noodles in Brazil

If you need to wordlessly convey the idea of Japanese fast food to the Portuguese speaking people of Brazil who better to work with than Sensei Gojira himself? He even brought along some of his other rubber-suited movies stars (although I was sorry to see neither Mothra nor The Smog Monster included in the series). Message here: Monsters prefer to nom on people who eat Cup Noodles – which spells doom for graduate students everywhere.cup_noodles_monster_2 [Via: I Believe in Advertising]

Meanwhile in other movie-monster related advertising: A new campaign by The Chiba Lotte Marines seems to be positioning the team as the imperiled maidens of those movies. Given that the Marines are currently four games below .500 and seven games out of first place this is taking truth-in-advertising very seriously.

 chiba_lotte_6

(Via PinkTentacle)

Japanese cafes where you pay to pet cats

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”  — Terry Pratchett

In Japan, pets are the new kids. As the nation rapidly edge toward zero population growth (1950 fertility rate = 3.65; 2009 = 1.21), cat and dog obsession is reaching strange heights – even for the Japanese. The latest example is the increasing number of cat cafes. According to the GlobalPost, one magazine listed 39 such establishments, up from 1 just two years ago.

At one of these, Calico, “customers pay to sip tea and stroke one of the 20-odd resident cats, representing 17 different breeds.” An hour of doing a cat’s bidding costs about $9.

Customers at Calico are given a set of rules when they enter:

  • wear your cat-access pass around your neck at all times
  • no one under 5th grade may enter
  • cats too young to be held have scarves around their necks
  • do not hold or stroke a cat if it resists you
  • never wake a napping cat
  • bringing cat nip or cat food to the cafe is strictly forbidden.

Oddly, nothing about trying to bathe them.

Fetishized girls join Hello Kitty, Doreamon as “cute” Japanese ambassadors

Japan’s latest ambassadors in marketing are a young woman dressed as a schoolgirl, another as a Victorian doll in voluminous frilly skirts and a singer dressed in a polka dot shirt with a bunny print, offset by bouffant back-combed hair. They join the previously named ambassadors Hello Kitty and Doraemon as the latest weapons in the nations attempt to conquer the world with cute.

Faced with the prospect of being overtaken in both economic and military might by giant neighbor China, Japan has been making concerted efforts to boost its “soft power,” a strategy that analysts see as important. “You get people to love your culture and use that as a way of gaining power around the world,” said Phil Deans, professor of international relations at Temple University’s Tokyo campus “Whether this is a strategy on which the world’s second largest economy can base its diplomacy, I have yet to be convinced.”

School girls are a huge theme in Japan’s sexual psyche – any questions on that issue can be answered by this post over at Tokyo Mango.

Ninjas — not pirates — sent to fight tourism slump

ninjas-kill-peopleNine ninjas have been sent to Honolulu to lure visitors from Japan. No, I am not making this up. The stealthy killers were hired by Hawaii Tourism Japan and come from Iga City, a castle town in Japan which apparently specializes in all things related to the ninja art.

Officials said it was the first time the ninja group has come to Hawai’i to promote a historically accurate depiction of a Japanese art popular in Hawai’i and worldwide. The tourism authorities emphasize that this ninja group is faithful to the ancient traditions. The black-clad specialists show off skills in swordplay, sickle work, juggling, throwing stars and even “piercing objects with flying chopsticks.”

Who knew that “piercing objects with flying chopsticks” was part of the ninjitsu tradition? Equally obscure is why Japanese would be lured to Hawaii by the chance to see something developed and practiced in their backyard. Would people from Illinois come to Hawaii for the chance to see one of their corrupt (redundant?) politicians take a bribe?

Related — and true — story: Friend of mine got a call from kindergarten her daughter was attending. Seems the teachers were concerned because the little girl kept insisting her father was a ninja. When told this issue of lying was a problem the friend replied with complete accuracy, “Her father teaches ninjitsu — what would  you call him?”

I would call him “sir” unless told otherwise.

Japanese man tries to make cartoon marriage real

And to think the Right was worried about gay marriage

A Japanese man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters, saying he feels more at ease in the “two-dimensional world.”

Which is why he works for the Bush administration… ba dum dum….

The comic (not to say cartoon) possibilities are endless here:

  • Didn’t Rodney Dangerfield have a cartoon marriage?
  • Whole new realms of infidelity become possible. Or, as Jessica Rabbit put it: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”
  • Instead of a divorce you get your marriage erased.
  • What if the character dies in the comic book? Do you get bereavement leave? How about life insurance?
  • What if the character is later brought back to life? Do you have to give the money back?
  • Plastic surgery just got a whole lot cheaper.
  • How do cartoons pay alimony?
  • Where do couples register for gifts?
  • Will a licensing fee replace the wedding license?

Japanese government now regretting naming Hello Kitty and Doraemon as ambassadors. The petition may have support in very high places, “Prime Minister Taro Aso is an avid fan of manga and recently complained that he has been too busy to read comic books since taking office.”

Best line in the story: “Japan only permits marriage between human men and women.”

I will support this petition only if we ad an amendment that allows me to adopt Ein from Cowboy Bebop and PenPen from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Or maybe they could adopt me.

International tensions prick condom ads

South Korea’s subway system said Thursday it had removed advertisements for Japanese condoms from its carriages amid growing public anger over Tokyo’s renewed claims to disputed islands. About 200 ads for Okamoto condoms were removed from carriages in Seoul on Tuesday, only five days after being posted, said Seoul Metro.

The ads didn’t actually show any condoms — heaven forbid! — but did include the phrase “No. 1 in Japan.”

Hello Kitty is 2nd marketing logo to be named ambassador by Japan

Japan has named Kitty an official tourism ambassador today. This follows the appointment last March of Doreamon to be the nation’s anime ambassador. While the press and public have been fooled into thinking these are benign actions, there is in fact a strong militaristic bent to both figures that should not be ignored. Both are frequently seen carrying weapons. I believe this is in fact Japan’s latest attempt at global domination.

I know first-hand the tourist power of the Kitty. It was the lure of the Sanrio Puroland theme park in Tokyo that got Mrs. CollateralDamage to convince us to go to Japan for a vacation (no complaints about this from me, btw). I am hoping that the siren call of Sanrio Harmonyland gets us back there for another visit.

If not she will have to make do with the multi-million-dollar musical featuring Hello Kitty that opened earlier this year in Beijing and is in the midst of a national tour. “Hello Kitty’s Dream Light Fantasy” is then scheduled to travel to Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S. over its three-year run. And there’s also the fact that, “according to her official profile from Sanrio, Hello Kitty lives with her family in London, which we will be visiting later this year.

Headline of the Day: “Japan’s baseball stadiums urged to drop octopus”

Won’t the octopi get hurt?

TOKYO (AFP) – Animal rights activists on Tuesday urged Japanese baseball stadiums to give up their usual fare of hot dogs and fried octopus balls and go vegetarian to fight global warming. Japan’s baseball commissioners announced as the season opened last week that the national pastime would take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by speeding up games. But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it would be more effective for concession stands to serve exclusively vegetarian fare.

When will PETA start speaking up on behalf of the endangered Tofu?

I would like to commend the Japanese baseball league for making game lengths an environmental issue. I hope MLB follows suit. Anything to speed the games up.

9:29 AM — Manny puts Sox ahead 6-4 in the 10th. They should play more games with a 13 hour time difference. I like watching baseball over breakfast.

CWAnd speaking of Japan & cephalapods: Got to watch the Japanese movie Calamari Wrestler last weekend. BRILLIANT! Plot: A dying pro-wrestler is cured by monks. Only drawback: cure turns him into a squid. He resumes his life as a pro-wrestler. Also resumes his relationship with his girlfriend. There are so many hysterical scenes it is hard to pick a favorite but I especially loved the one where the happy couple are skipping down the street hand-in-tentacle. It has special effects on a par with early Dr. Who and a truly wonderful campy humor. The Times quote on the box sums it up perfectly: “A cross between The Muppets and Godzilla.” Which is also a great idea for the next Muppets movie.

Japanese appoint cartoon character to be ambassador

DoraemonFurther proof of the growing influence of anime in Japanese politics: The foreign ministry announced Friday it was appointing the cartoon cat Doraemon as the nation’s first “anime ambassador,” in Japan’s latest effort to promote its soft power through its animation industry. Doraemon — or at least a person dressed as the earless, blue-and-white cat — will receive his official assignment letter from Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura in a ceremony scheduled for Wednesday.

  1. He’s got just as much foreign policy experience as either of our last two presidents did before taking office.
  2. They should have gone with Totoro.
  3. If they ever figure out a way to weaponize cute cartoon characters Japan will rule the world.