While crashing at my sister’s place in Toronto this past weekend I happened to switch the TV to The Discovery Channel
. Naively I thought, “hey, I might learn something if I keep it on the discovery channel.”
How wrong I was. The show in question dealt with the possibility of alien invasion and how the human race would fare.
When did we set the bar of what constitutes “discovery” so low? The program took a pretty pessimistic view of our most likely first line of defense, nuclear weapons.
In the esteemed view of the Discovery Channel, any spacecraft fast enough to travel through space at high speeds would have to be built resilient enough (or have force fields) to withstand the impact of the tiny meteoroids it would inevitably run into throughout the galaxy. These would apparently hit said ship with a force greater than our most powerful warheads. Therefore, we have to assume that our warheads would be ineffectual.
After painting this dim picture of our ability to defend ourselves with awesome explosions, the show hypothesized that mankind would still be able to attain victory* provided the aliens’ intention was to deprive us of our resources.
As opposed to annihilation
In this scenario we could in fact booby-trap the resources the aliens are trying to rob us of. The program then showed a scene of two human resistance fighters strapping dynamite to a tree (cause the aliens ships were sucking up our trees with their tractor beams for some reason) which was set to explode once inside the alien ship. As I watched this scene (and the humans’ post-asploesion victory dance) I couldn’t help but think of the modern insurgents waging guerilla war in the middle-east against foreign interlopers (ps that’s us). Well apparently I wasn’t too far off because they started interviewing senior American military personnel who advocated asymmetrical warfare (guerilla tactics) against aliens because they are demoralizing and are the best chance of victory against superior firepower. To emphasize this they cited the success of Afghan and Iraqi insurgents against coalition troops.
Then it hit me, these same tactics which would serve mankind so well against the aliens are derided as cowardly whenever a coalition patrol gets hit by an IED or an ambush. Not surprisingly, the most vociferous critics of the tactics of the insurgents are the soldiers who get hit by roadside bombs or worse, the friends they leave behind when they perish in an attack. I know a few people who have lost close friends in attacks such as these and the last thing I wish to do is insult them by lauding the Taliban et al. for their resourcefulness. However, I think a healthy respect for the enemy is due. Far from cowardly, they are instead like the human survivors of an extra-terrestrial invasion, fighting the war on their own terms.
*Victory was defined as the side left with the most survivors by the end of the conflict
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