Two thousand years ago, wars were fought using spears, rocks slung from a piece of rope and other sharpened surfaces. Times changed and new weapons were created. The short bow and arrow became the famous English long bow, able to send arrows much farther and with greater power behind them. This was followed by the crossbow, offering even greater power in one single strip of wood and iron. Swords evolved over that time period too, as did all manner of weaponry. Then gunpowder became more widely used and we had guns of all sizes, from those you carry around on your hip (or otherwise concealed on your person) to massive cannons used on board ships and positioned on the battlements of a castle.
As weapons evolved, so too did the method of war. Most wars, prior to the Great War, were fought face to face. Each side would line their combatants up and truly face each other along a battle line in the battle fields we are so keen to maintain as some monument to death. Then in World Wars I & II, there was still a bit of fighting face to face on a battle field, with the added feature of bombing from planes overhead and in the waters of the ocean. The conflict in Vietnam stands out as its own brand of fighting, but on the whole the method of war has evolved as has our means of fighting that war.
It is no different today in the 21st century. The only problem is that we in the United States are unwilling to change. We will never win any wars or conflicts we take part in because of that unwillingness. In our current fight against ISIS, the enemy has made many adjustments to how it attacks the enemy, yet here we are with a new president who sees the only way to defeat ISIS is to bomb them to death. But if we truly embrace that mentality, we are no better than they are because they sure as hell don’t care who they kill in the process. What good will bombs do against an enemy you cannot see?
On 14 March 2017, I listened to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi. Rukmini has spent many long months near the front line of the war against ISIS and she has seen for herself how ISIS conducts its own warfare. They have created a massive underground tunnel system and they use drones to see what they’re missing on the surface. So while they are safely hunkered down out of reach of our bombs that the current president wants to use, thousands of innocent civilians die from our bombs.
We have two choices: become like our enemy and attack wherever we think they are and not worry about collateral damage OR we change our methodology of taking down ISIS.
One way to help us gain the upper hand on ISIS is to cut off their finances. The bulk of their money comes from the selling of antiquities stolen from archaeology sites. This morning I heard a story about ‘Data Water’. It is a special liquid developed by Smartwater CSI containing nano-particles that can remain on any object for years and will show where the piece came from, like a fingerprint. No more than a single drop is needed to be placed on any of the ancient artefacts that might become ISIS’s next target for selling. Smuggling of these artefacts is a highly sophisticated, highly illegal and extremely profitable way of making money for ISIS. When you have the means to provide proof that something has been stolen, buyers can no longer claim innocence through ignorance. The nano-particles can’t be washed or scrubbed off and they do no harm to any of the centuries old objects. Smartwater is working with Syrian archaeologists to mark hundreds of objects.
The best way to defeat ISIS, or at least put a dent in their coffers, is to take away their number one money-making scheme. I’m glad that even if our government is too stubborn to listen to other options besides bombing the shit out of a country, private companies are stepping up to take on the new fight.