by David Shukman ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 1996
BBC correspondent Shukman has looked into the high-tech future of warfare and determined it could work all too well. Drawing mainly on interviews with high-ranking members of the Global Village's ubiquitous military/industrial complex, the author first surveys the state of the military arts in a troubled world where atomic weaponry and worse is within the reach of even backward states. Casting a cold eye on the ABM systems developed by Russia, the UK, and the US, he notes that there's been precious little protection against missiles such as Iraqi Scuds, which can be launched from mobile platforms. The author next reviews the increasing accuracy with which offensive forces can deliver bombs or other ordnance to almost any target without collateral damage (Pentagonese for civilian casualties), thanks to ongoing advances in computer, satellite, and laser guidance techniques. Assessed as well are the unmanned vehicles (terrestrial as well as airborne), robots, and other electromechanical rigs that, in theory at least, could replace human warriors on tomorrow's battlefields. Among the wilder dreams that have moved from the drawing board to a test bed are so-called soldier-ants--expendable microchips that can be remotely controlled to conduct surveillance missions, chew through communications cabling, disable gun emplacements, halt traffic on busy highways, and otherwise sow confusion behind enemy lines. Recalling Joshua's successful siege of Jericho, the author also considers nonlethal arms that incapacitate without killing or wounding, as well as their deadlier counterparts--biological and chemical agents that can fell the populations of whole cities. In this bleak context, he concludes that the West should continue funding research of advanced weapons to retain an edge over rogue nations and to maintain the means to devise such countermeasures as circumstance might dictate. A sobering inventory that leaves no doubt: Planet Earth's arsenal is Pandora's box.
Pub Date: March 1, 1996
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Harcourt Brace
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996
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