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An F-117 pilot and the officer who shot him down meet, 15 years later (2013) (rd.com)
324 points by yutyut 72 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 168 comments

There is so much gold in here. The human race would do well to explore how it's possible to turn hatred into love. It clearly happened here, and I've witnessed it on a smaller scale as a 16 year old in Vienna. As an immigrant, it was easy to find yourself in the wrong place at a wrong time. That finally happened one night, and the only thing that saved me was seeing a sign on one of the guys' jackets that belonged to a soccer club where I played in a young division (these guys were lifelong supporters, so my small achievement was enough to view me in a completely different light).

Deeply embedded in our evolutionary story is the urge to protect people you have something in common with (and I suppose this works the other way around as well). How easy would it be to hack this trait and increase the chances of world peace by consciously exploiting it on a global scale? Think of it as next-gen UN, but instead of focusing on top-down conflict resolution, we would work from the bottom up and search for things we're passionate about and can connect with people from across the world to collaborate on. Rule #1: teams should not be divided on a country by country basis.

> Rule #1: teams should not be divided on a country by country basis.

I don't think I agree. It's great for individuals and countries to be friendly, but I see two problems with a one-world-government system:

1. It concentrates an extreme quantity of power in the hands of a few people. Power has a potential of corrupting those who hold it, and I believe that potential increases on an exponential (or at least an algebraic) scale, not a linear scale.

2. If an evil personage gains power (think 20th century dictators), a single world country would suffer significantly. But having countries separated provides a limit and a check on the potential fallout of that dictator's actions.

The OP was not proposing a one world government. They were proposing that there be huge number of overlapping social organizations, based on natural similarities. The International Association of Basket Weavers is not even comparable to a one-world government.

Thanks, and agreed with that — organizations that transcend country boundaries are great, as long as they’re not vested with political power.

Perhaps the OP was talking about sports teams in particular? Forming sports teams based on geographic area fits well, and gives people someone to root for without alienating other groups for what would amount to wrongfully discriminatory reasons in other contexts.

But if geographic region isn’t allowed, then finding other criteria can be hard. Who wants to root for the A’s to win against the B’s if there’s nothing besides the name that makes them different?

> organizations that transcend country boundaries are great, as long as they’re not vested with political power

The EU is an organization that transcends countries and is vested with political power, and despite being constantly bashed by far-right parties in Europe, has built a single market in Europe and many new freedoms for it citizens, like the right to move to and work/study in other member states.

They selective enforce that political power, though.

Nearly expelled Greece for not bailing out the German banks, but Hungary can compulsively retire judges, expel universities, and close newspapers without even a slap in the wrist.

The EU is great insofar as it functions merely as a multilateral treaty and economic zone. But the moment the EU itself arrests someone or issues a court injunction against an individual or small business (or gains the legal power to do so), it has crossed the line in my opinion. Same with the UN, NATO, NAFTA, etc.

Given the way Premier League works, it's not really geographic any more. "Arsenal" is owned by an American, plays in a stadium named after the airline of the UAE, recruits its team from all over the world, and is named after the Royal arsenal that no longer exists.

Names and history are important. That's why there has been such a fight over renaming US teams with racist names.

I don't think it's a simple as that, and you have to separate the ownership of the club and the makeup of the team from who makes up the bulk of the fans.

The fans don't particularly care that it's owned by an american and sponsored by a UAE airline, because what matters is the coming together of the fans behind a common cause.

The fans do typically come from the area around the stadium in North London.

When you get just a little bit further down the league it's still very much a geographical thing because the teams are less well known and less successful, so are less likely to attract people who want to support "the best team". For example, Southampton FC fans are pretty much exclusively from Southampton.

Further to that, the fans care deeply if the owner/manager/players make efforts to become part of the fabric of the area, otherwise they won't care about them to any great degree (even if a player is world-class and delivers success, without integrating, they'll still be seen as mercenary). Fans, very much the same regardless of level: support is an identity very much tied to a specific place, and a tourist can't really fully participate in that.

> I don't think I agree. It's great for individuals and countries to be friendly, but I see two problems with a one-world-government system.

I agree that power corrupts but it doesn’t follow to me that power corrupts more at the top than at the bottom. I’ve heard some horror stories about small towns in Texas. I’m sure there are similar stories everywhere.

What's the greater evil - the risk that checks and balances fail and an evil person takes over, or that a federated system is unable to reach consensus and address existential threats like climate change or even significant but not quite existential threats like overfishing, pollution, war, and nonrenewable resources?

A more fair choice of options would be, "the risk that an evil person takes over" vs. "the risk that a federated system fails to address existential threats". The way you said it implies probability in the former vs. certainty in the latter.

An explictly evil person or group dominating the world seems like the greater evil in terms of outcome. That would literally be hell on Earth. When you look at probabilities, there's tons of examples in history, across thousands of years, of evil people inevitably rising to power when the system allows for it. Meanwhile, there are relatively few examples of humanity going extinct due to self-inflicted environmental damage.

Isn't federation one of the main checks and balances that keeps evil dictators from taking over the world?

It's interesting that the OP said "teams" meaning sport and now at least two comments have thought that "teams" meant politics or nationality.

game theory coordination dilemmas are killing us now

I don’t believe war requires hatred, no more than sport. Some people wind up in war through machinations that have nothing to do with even the acknowledgment of the enemy’s existence.

Go here, wait there, if your life is in danger, return the danger back at them.

As someone who witnessed war preparations in two very different countries and with more than a decade in between, I can tell you what they had in common: people at the top had to convince the majority of the population that the war was necessary. In each case, the arguments were sloppy and could have been pushed back on. I would argue that giving people more data points would increase the decisioning threshold for such actions.

Stefan Zweig's book The World of Yesterday is very good on this as regards WWI from the point of view of Austria-Hungary.

Your comment also reminds me of a phrase from one of the last surviving British soliders from WWI, Harry Patch: "If two Governments can't agree give them a rifle each and let them fight it out. Don't lose 20,000 men. It isn't worth it."

Having ones fighting forces being primarily composed of young people is helpful in this regard. Not only are they usually physically fit, they haven’t had a ton of life experience and are more likely to do what they are told without question. The point isn’t for them to think, they don’t need more data, they need to do what they are told.

A few lies and myths can snowball into a narrative that makes war logical and even noble. Conspiracy theories turn every data point into something that confirms the myth. People really believe that they are in the right. And the most appalling acts can seem logically consistent.

I remember during the first gulf war we were studying the First World War.

The propaganda borrowed key elements, most notably the babies pulled from incubators and left to die on the hospital floor.

I think the world would be better off if people simply refused the initial "Go here" order from someone who cares nothing for their own life, or the lives of those "there".

War cannot be waged without soldiers, and no one is born a soldier.

This requires the cultural de-glorification of soldering-as-profession. Millions of tax dollars are spent on advertising to ensuring it remains, and many companies are complicit in furthering it (priority boarding, discounts, et c). I shop elsewhere whenever possible.

The US has had a volunteer military for decades. People who would refuse to fight simply never volunteer in the first place.

Boycotting companies for extending a few minor courtesies to the troops is ridiculous and ineffective. If you want to make a difference then get active in politics.

> The US has had a volunteer military for decades.

It gets those "volunteers" by putting the lower classes in a position where their only way of getting education and healthcare is to sign up for the military, and then high-pressure sales tactics to get teenagers to sign a contract that'll bind them for decades.

Actually most military recruits now come from the middle classes. Largely because so many lower class youths fail to meet recruiting standards due to having a criminal record, health problems, poor fitness, history of drug use, or lack of high school diploma. Most enlistment contracts only last a few years. In some cases those have been forcibly extended through a stop loss order, but that doesn't last for decades.

> Boycotting companies for extending a few minor courtesies to the troops is ridiculous and ineffective.

I don't think freedom of association is ridiculous. I'm curious why you do.

First, good commanding officers do care for the lives of their soldiers.

Second, those who don't have soldiers can still die by someone else's soldiers.

This was actually a basis for the international Ham Radio scene back in the day I believe. I also see it playing out with FLOSS software development -- to me it is exciting when people from other backgrounds and countries download, comment, and improve on my software.

War is almost never about hate or love.

War is a tool of diplomacy.

Both of these men were simply professionals doing their jobs. The one attacking, the one defending. It's unlikely they ever hated each other or even really thought a great deal beyond how to accomplish their respective missions at the time.

> War is a tool of diplomacy.

More often than not war is a means of pursuing business interests.

Certainly not in this case.

>Deeply embedded in our evolutionary story is the urge to protect people you have something in common with

Deeper than that is identity. In fact, after basic needs are met, your identity (cultural, ethnic, religious, and yes, even national) is one of the most important aspect of your humanity. Every nation in the world, has very tight immigration policies and border controls. That's not a coincidence.

>Rule #1: teams should not be divided on a country by country basis.

How should they be divided? How does a global government look like? Liberal Democracy with a market economy? You sure everyone is OK with that?

Also, we live in a world where even 'regular' nation states number in tens or hundreds of millions of people. There is already an issue of the disconnect between the population and their representatives. I'm not sure how this would work if added another 1 or 2 levels up the hierarchy. Can you imagine how disconnected and 'elitist' representatives of your one-world government would be? Yieks.

You took my next-gen UN idea too far. I am not asking for a government of governments (aka, a worldwide EU). I am just asking for another form of Olympic Games (or an expanded version of Monsters of Rock, or whatever comes to your mind).

Immigration policies were a direct result of the creation of social welfare programs.

Remember, 200 years ago most European countries only existed in a proto form of what we recognize today.

And those ethnic identities were there ... Where do you think those nations came from?

Amazing story and I believe it's happening. The world is connecting on a global scale and people are beginning to realize there's other ways than simply "us vs them". A way to see it is how diverse food has gotten around the world.

One thing that really slows this progress is the nationalization of the news and specifically internet. It's much easier to keep the "us vs them" narrative going when the news outlets are controlled by the state.

I think we’d have this already/automatically as our interconnectivity has grown.

It’s media and government propaganda stoking fear of the other for their gain which actively thwarts it. — up to the point which it can live organically once again in the greater populace.

But that’s just like, my opinion, man.

One aspect of this that lends itself to the type of "easy" reconciliation that makes us think avoiding war shouldn't be so hard, is that neither party here actually had a sustained interest in the other. Serbia didn't have years, let alone decades or centuries, of grievance against the USA, and vis versa. The same with the US and Vietnam, or Japan, or Germany, or just about every other war the US has gotten involved in. As far as Americans are concerned, not long before whichever war, most Americans didn't even know where they "enemy" country was, or if it was a real place at all.

There are conflicts for which a resolution would require one or both sides to compromise on a position they hold, sometimes that they've held for a significant time. Those conflicts are much more thorny and the stories of reconciliation are usually much more personal even though it's clear that the underlying cultural conflict remains. Probably the most obvious is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but for America, those unresolved internal conflicts that are unlikely to rise to war but just as fraught linger, regardless of the innumerable personal bonds between parties.

I think the ultimate solution needs to come down from UN in setting a legal framework for parts of the country to secede.

I.e. it's generally an economic interest for separatists rise to power, and I wonder if we could stymie that by making it legal for parts of countries to secede under a certain set of terms (paying "damages" to the parent country, obligating parent country to allow free travel and similar for a preset duration of 10 or 20 years).

In the end, I don't think we'd end up with a gazillion small countries, because there is value in having a larger market and freely moving people, even if it might start off with a spike in new countries being established.

If you make it easy and legal you'd get stuff like Wall Street seceding from the US to pay less tax.

A possible model for Israel like situations is both parts become part of some larger body like Eire and NI both joining the EU. I know that's changed now but it did quite a good job of stopping the troubles.

Maybe something like the earlier EU were you get free trade and human rights courts but without the latter attempts at a single currency and political integration.

But they would have to pay their share towards the upkeep of NYC at least or there would be border checks on the subway bringing Wall Street to its knees as they run out of secretaries and cleaners who commute from distant suburbs. Many companies would be forced for practical reasons to relocate to Brooklyn or New Jersey. Basically like U.K. leaving the EU.

Stonk trading can happen on the internet. Is there even a floor anymore?

As I mentioned, that one is easiest to expect, and a seceding country would be paying a fee for 10 or 20 years that would pretty much cancel any tax savings.

After they are done, the formerly parent country could introduce visas for travel across the border, and as someone mentioned, all the income for people living outside the Wall Street would still be taxed by residency, as is the case today.

Of course, the rules would need to be carefully worked out, and it would disincentivise some but not others to secede (just like today). The goal should only be to avoid armed conflict in reaching the same state.

Basically, we all accept that killing someone is illegal if you disagree with them, but there's this sudden jump when countries declare war on each other and now it's ok to do exactly that.

Basically, it's double standards, and it should be a criminal act to declare war on anyone.

I get what you’re trying to do, but do you realize how much you’re trying to force your idea of taxation onto others?

The UN purposefully doesn't involve itself in internal politics of its member states unless there is an clear reason to. Setting such a framework would be down right disastrous for some countries and would likely be ignored by many other countries that would be the countries that would need such a framework the most. It would also be unenforceable.

Anything the UN says is unenforceable if it does not come from the member states themselves.

My point was not to make UN the policeman, but to get countries to agree to change the founding principles of UN (which is exactly the sovereignity you mention). The cost involved should be big enough to discourage everyone and their uncle to claim a new state, obligations of signing all the UN resolutions and declarations should be present. Basically, I think it would discourage many smart people from wanting to separate in the first place: eg. if Catalonia decided to secede, they'd have to be willing to accept Barcelona to secede as well, and suddenly that is not as tempting economically.

FWIW, I am a Serbian myself, and the Serbian people have been at both ends of the bargain: they've stopped from seceding from Croatian and Bosnian territories for UN border reasons, but Kosovars are also not fully separated from Serbia because of UN ruled (though de facto both Bosnian Serbs and Kosovars have separate "states"). I am convinced that if such framework existed prior to 90s, we'd see much fewer wars (if any), since nationalists wouldn't have a way to rise to power. I don't even think we'd see much splitting up of Yugoslavia even, or at least not in any meaningful sense (maybe all states would have joined EU as independent states at the same time to make it EUgoslavia :).

I haven't worked this out in detail, and I am sure there's a bit of psychology to deal with too (people do need a bit of us vs them, which we are trying to substitute with sports), but I am sure that if we had a bunch of smart people on finding a way to make seccesion fair, we'd at least get a reduction of violent conflicts.

> My point was not to make UN the policeman, but to get countries to agree to change the founding principles of UN

No your point is to force your ideals onto others. Hence the overuse of the word “discourage”

Yes, my ideal being to stop or at least reduce wars between nation states.

I know it's a hard one to buy into, but if you did, what would you suggest?

Mandate gun ownership. Military weapons. So those in crap states / areas that need to sucede can just fix the problem with their gov. This doesn’t increase or force taxation or allow some external entity legal authority in your country.

But why the UN? Doesn’t this just create a one world gov?

United Nation rules that countries' borders are indisputable have led to more than one war. Heck, Kosovo today is still officially part of Serbia even though de facto it is not. And I worry if we'll get to see more wars out of it (Serbia is looking to reintroduce obligatory military service for all men).

UN was created to stop wars like the WW1 and WW2 happening again, but while one could argue it was successful in that (I believe other factors have come into play, mostly increased standard of living), it has anything but stopped separatist conflicts.

To me the UN sounds like the right place to extend the goal to stop wars even further: it's where countries come together and agree on shared values, goals and rules.

I don't care if it's UN or anything else, if we are worrying about corruption, we'd need to design for that too because it is inevitable in any organization.

You’re not going to stop wars, hard stop. An admirable goal but it will never happen. Rational minds are not the only ones on this planet. NK, China, these all still exist today despite the UN. The UN can cease to exist and nothing will change from our perspective.

Let’s take two examples. What’s goin on in Myanmar atm, they are supposed to sucede? From who? Who will tax them? Another example, let’s say hypothetically Texas decides the US is too liberal and sucedes. The liberal US will tax it at the liberal, starting a war. The US was even founded because of extreme taxation, which led to a war. Taxes = war. Give people away to defend themselves, then you’ll stop wars.

Nail on head. I have a cousin in Croatia who is very progressive and an artist. He's by far my favorite family member. But he lived in Osijek during yugoslavia and during the war and his animosity for serbs runs surprisingly deep.

While he doesn't dwell on it or let it consume him, if you ask then he will reveal that he still resents them for bullying and war crimes over 25 years later.

And in my view that was a relatively mild conflict compared to others like Israel and Palestine for example.

My Croatian friends still complain that Serb girls don't give them the time of day. I guess things aren't fully resolved yet.

"And in my view that was a relatively mild conflict compared to others like Israel and Palestine for example."

Serbs and Croats were massacring each other, mass rape, torture, executions, quasi-genocide. It's far worse than anything in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict at least on that level.

You sound like you're from there. Because you're clearly over exaggerating.

It's been pretty quiet down there for at least 20 years. You can literally walk over the border near Vukovar in some places without even seeing a border guard.

In Palestine people have a giant wall and are forced to go through humiliating border checks just to get to work. And it's been going on for longer than I've been alive.

It was bad [1].

In WW2 there was straight up genocidal stuff, in 1990's there was ethnic cleansing. Torture houses, militias going door to door kicking people out, executing them. Some barbaric stuff rooted in a very long history.

It's almost 'neighbour v. neighbour' - not a quite war of 'highly organized national soldiers' vs. 'some other nation'.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugoslav_Wars

Excellent point. Also, the protagonists in this story were not taught to hate each others national identities at birth. There is a point where people become so indoctrinated with hate that before start making pastry, the hate would need to be de-programmed.

The joke at that time was Serbs saying: "Sorry, we didn't know it was invisible."

It was based on a mistranslation though. In English these planes were never described as "invisible", it was always "stealth". Since other language don't have a separate word for "stealth", they became "invisible". A native English speaker would be a bit hard pressed to understand the humor of that joke.

I'm not sure. Trump recently talked about invisible F-35s and nobody really knew for sure what he meant.


Hahaha, that's a fantastic find. Thanks for brightening my day a little.

For those who are not sure whether to click on the link or not, here's a little pearl from the former Commander in Chief:

"I was asking the Air Force guys, I said, how good is this plane? They said, well, sir, you can't see it. I said, yeah, but in a fight — you know, a fight — like I watch in the movies — they fight, they're fighting. How good is this? They say, well, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it. Even if it's right next to it, it can't see it. I said, that helps. That's a good thing."

Still is. I saw it on a poster in a shop in North Mitrovica, Kosovo a few years ago.

Another famous example of how in the darkest hours there's longing for peace and friendship is the Christmas Truce during the first world war [1].

British soldiers heard German troops in the trenches singing carols and patriotic songs. They started shouting messages to each other. The next day, soldiers from both sides met, exchanged gifts, took photographs and played football.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce

The article also reminded me of a story from the aftermath of the My Lai massacre:

> In 1998, Thompson and Colburn returned to the village of Sơn Mỹ, where they met some of the people they saved during the killings, including Thi Nhung and Pham Thi Nhanh, two women who had been part of the group about to be killed by Brooks's 2nd Platoon. Thompson said to the survivors, "I just wish our crew that day could have helped more people than we did." He reported that one of the women they had helped out came up to him and asked, "Why didn't the people who committed these acts come back with you?" He said that he was "just devastated" but that she finished her sentence: "So we could forgive them."


> They sang Christmas carols, exchanged photographs of loved ones back home, shared rations, played football, even roasted some pigs. Soldiers embraced men they had been trying to kill a few short hours before. They agreed to warn each other if the top brass forced them to fire their weapons, and to aim high.

From We CAN Change the World via http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/60/048.html:


> Across the line, still brandishing his binoculars, Old Horseflesh [a hard-liner] shoves a rifle into Green's hands. "Take a steady aim," he commands. Dodger aims well above Coburg's head, and the lieutenant dives into a handy shell hole. Catching on, the German machine gunners let loose a burst well above the opposite trenches.

From Silent Night:


For the benefit of anyone not in the UK, there is a marvelous Christmas advert inspired by this event, which aired in 2014 (100 years later): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWF2JBb1bvM

And the next day started shooting at each other again. Humans are truly weird.

Unofficial live and let live systems carried on...


Unwillingness to die is really common in war

This wasnt very surprising when it happened as historically The united states is its own worst enemy when it comes to military counterintelligence assessments. Id surmise no general wants to openly admit to the enemies asymmetric advantage.

Francis Gary Powers was no doubt stunned to find his U2 spyplane tumbling from the skies in 1960 thanks to what I can only imagine is inherent bias in the war room against the enemy. Its also worth noting the Tupolev TU95 bear left Washington scratching its heads for nearly a decade, furiously revising the numbers for speed and range. https://web.archive.org/web/20081211055010/http://www.aviati...

in 2006 china managed to tail a US aircraft carrier and emerge in torpedo range with a Song 039 type submarine, a generation behind the US, which was previously thought incapable of such an operation. https://thediplomat.com/2015/11/closest-encounter-since-2006...

Those unfamiliar with history text might also recall the day when Iran not only detected but casually landed a sophisticated US military drone at one of its airbases. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93U.S._RQ-170_incid...

What exactly does this incident have to do with counterintelligence? I think you are using that word incorrectly. I also don't understand what those linked incidents have in common. Sure, the US military isn't invulnerable and there is always risk associated with combat.

I think they are saying the US systematically underestimates the enemy's capability so it probably wasn't actually that surprising an F117 was downed.

If the US military and government are anything like American companies, then they're good at marketing. Wait, I think with the military it's called propaganda.

I also grew up thinking a Stealth Fighter could never be shot down. It's invisible. No way.

Marketing/propaganda is an important part of defence. Having to actually fight will have costs. The real goal is to convince the enemy that there's no point in fighting.

> in 2006 china managed to tail a US aircraft carrier and emerge in torpedo range with a Song 039 type submarine, a generation behind the US, which was previously thought incapable of such an operation.

The alternative version of that story is that the Carrier Group commander was quietly commended for not giving away how far out they detected the submarine.

The extended alternate version is that the SSN Jimmy Carter had been ghosting the Song 039 for <<undisclosed>> days.

I thought that every carrier group had at least one SSN, using the Jimmy Carter for this kind of thing seems strange.

Not strange considering where and what the Jimmy is used for.

Tupolev TU-95, Wikipedia: "First flown in 1952, the Tu-95 entered service with the Soviet Union in 1956 and is expected to serve the Russian Aerospace Forces until at least 2040"

Yeesh, I guess they must have done something right with that plane.

Same for US bombers - the B52 also first flew in 1952 and is expected to serve into the 2050s. Bomb trucks don't need ultramodern stealth, supercruise, vectored thrust etc - they need air superiority provided by other aircraft, a big jet engine, and reliability.

"stunned to find his U2 spyplane tumbling from the skies in 1960 thanks to what I can only imagine is inherent bias in the war room against the enemy"

The U2 has been flying for literally decades, even to this day, relatively unencumbered. The performance ratio is way in the favour of 'confident war room'.

Also - it's hard to say anything about submarines, they're so clouded in secrecy, I think the truth tends not to come out until a couple of decades after the fact.

It certainly hasn't been flying over the Soviet Union.

It became obsolete in 1960. That doesn't mean it was no longer useful anywhere.

It's running 10-15K mission hours a year since 1960, that's pretty far from obsolete.

Yeah, I know what it does -- it's had many different missions grafted onto it. It's a cool plane.

But I mean it's obsolete for its original mission. It can't fly higher than Soviet SAMs anymore. It hasn't been able to since the 60s.

Because the US had a new spy satellite program that took its place.

Worldwide, the sort of divisions where one's own side is all good and the other side is unspeakably evil, are on the upswing again. Having lived through a full cycle of this (old style cold war/thaw/current situation) I try to remind people that we're all humans, and about 99% everywhere have the same instincts to survive and get along. Not everyone listens.

> about 99% everywhere have the same instincts to survive and get along

I just finished listening to The Doomsday Machine audiobook (https://www.amazon.com/The-Doomsday-Machine-audiobook/dp/B07...) and it's had a profound effect on how I see our military leadership's nuclear strategy. While the book delves primarily into the 1950s-80s, as far as the author is concerned (he worked as a consultant on nuclear strategy,) the policies have not materially changed since then. Some examples of some things that were eye-opening to me:

- The military deliberately hid their nuclear war strategy from the secretary of defense (and thus the president, etc.) for years.

- US Presidents often invoke the threat of nuclear attack to force nations to bend to its will - to this day, democrats and republicans alike.

- The gov't has done a good job of selling that only the president can order a nuclear strike, but in practice there's a lot more people involved that can launch a nuclear attack without requiring clearance (in years past, this was due to potential communication issues, but even to this day these remain in order to counter potential 'decapitation' attacks. This delegation system means we're one person's mistake (or mental illness) from starting a world-ending cascade of nuclear strikes as other nations respond in kind.

I'm under no delusion that the world can do away with nuclear weapons, but maybe we should stop threatening to use it first like it's no big deal. It seems that our military leadership historically isn't exactly in that 99% group of folks who want to live and get along.

We've been very very close (probably more than once).


In short: Russian early warning system operator sees 5 minuteman ICBMs coming towards them. He does not have time to go check with someone. If they are to retaliate, he has to just launch now. No such thing as "waiting for the president to decide to launch". He didn't. Turned out reflections of the sunlight off clouds set off their sensors.

It’s worse than that: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand

Beyond that, during the Cuban Missile Crisis the US warships harassed Russian subs that (unbeknownst to them) had nuclear torpedos. These subs thought the US ships were trying to sink them, and as a result they nearly launched their nukes as a last resort.

The logic behind this was that a first strike is unplausible to be only 5 missiles. Stanislav Petrov knew a first strike would have involved hundreds of missiles launched at the same time.

Humans also seem to mostly have less pleasant instincts. The theme of "The Better Angels of our Nature" is kind of the promotion of 'get along' and the minimisation of 'smite your enemies.'

Air forces of the world seem to have their own more strict code of honor, moral or mutual respect. Hermann Goering is known to have enjoyed some hospitality after surrendering[1]. Also Franz Stigler escorted a badly damaged US bomber to safety[2].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnX5HXbRbcA

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Brown_and_Franz_Stigle...

Indeed! The Swedish metal band Sabaton recently released an 8 minute animated video of their 2014 song "No bullets fly". After the song, it includes a clip of Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown's first meeting, as well as a clip of Franz Stigler's grandson discovering the song in 2014, calling his mom and her message to the band!


My Dad helped enable one of these "after the war" meetups.

His older brother was on the USS Phoenix, a US light cruiser that was in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. His brother survived that, but eventually succumbed to sickness in the war and died.

My Dad started digging into the history of the ship later in life, and learned that it was ultimately sold to the Argentine Navy, where it became the ARA General Belgrano. The Belgrano was sunk during during the Falklands War by the Royal Navy submarine Conqueror with 323 lost.

Wanting to keep digging more, my Dad got in contact with a man who had been on board the Belgrano, and they became pen pals.

And digging more, he eventually struck up a friendship with a sailor from the Conqueror as well, and they too became pen pals.

And then he got the two of them to start talking to each other. It took a while to get them talking but it ended up being very cathartic, in particular for the British sailor, who had felt great guilt for what they had done. All three still share letters and emails to this day.

There's a PS to this story in a way. Ever the digger my Dad also got an introduction to a gentleman who was a Japanese pilot at Pearl Harbor. My Dad eventually flew to Japan to meet him.

It’s wild how every time something bad happens to a US soldier it’s a newsworthy event worthy of somber tones and think pieces but when they gun down 40 civilians it’s just another day at the office.

Here's the documentary film that was created about this encounter:


> one woman said to me, “When you were shot down, I celebrated. I cheered with my friends. But we were upset that you were not killed. We thought you deserved to die.” You can imagine the hush in the audience. And then she said, “But now that we have gotten to know you, I’m so glad that you are here.” I was weeping.

> There’s so much misunderstanding in the world resulting in unnecessary sorrow. Having the Danis—a positive, joyful family—in my life has altered my perspective. It may sound trite, but if only there were a way for all the religious, cultural, and ethnic groups of the world to meet and get to know one another in a meaningful way—the way Zoltan and I have—how could we ever go to war again?

For those curious (the article doesn't address it) it was the bomb hatch that momentarily gave away the planes position.

I'm curious as to how such a huge oversight in the design of the craft made it to production, since it's widely known that 90 degree angles is a surefire way to get instantly detected on radar.

It was less about technical factors relating to stealth than human factors.

The USAF reused the route packages and the shooters knew the approximate location and timing of the flight. A Serbian asset tipped off the shooters that the normal SEAD assets would not be present. Without SEAD the shooters were able to keep transmitting long enough to see the plane. There were 3 F-117 in the flight, only one had its doors open long enough for the shooters to acquire.

Different routes, randomized timing, SEAD presence, better stealth hygiene and it would have been just another night.

The Serbian commander comes across as skilled, creative, and diligent. The USAF comes across as lazy and sloppy that night.

> I'm curious as to how such a huge oversight in the design of the craft made it to production

Do you work in military aircraft production? (just curious of your background)

Sorry I realize I came off very rude, it was not my intention. When I learned about this hatch and saw the pictures I was just so surprised since it seems the design could be improved to reduce the radar signature significantly by using the standard practices they use for the rest of the craft. Just curious if this was an oversight or what the motivations behind the design were.

How else do you release bombs? I believe that even modern stealth aircraft are more vulnerable when releasing missiles or bombs.

The thing is if the aircraft gets to the point of releasing bombs or missiles it has pretty much done its job. You won't get that far without being stealthy.

The GP is suggesting the doors should have had zig-zag edges.

However, from what I've read, it sounds like radar reflectons from the doors themselves are dwarfed by radar signals bouncing off the upper bulkhead of the bomb bay. If they made the side bulkheads of the bomb bay at 90 degrees to the upper bulkhead, then an incoming radio wave bouncing off both the upper and side bulkheads will leave anti-parallel to its incoming direction... right back at the sending radar. (This geometric identity is used on the laser reflectors left on the moon. They send the laser right back at the sender without having to track the Earth.)

Though, maybe the reporting I've read is just imprecise, and maybe the doors do have a larger radar cross-section than the bomb bays themselves.

The GP is asserting, without any evidence at all, that the designers simply did not think about the radar return from the bomb bay opening. That's a rather absurd position to take, vs the more banal explanation that engineering always involves tradeoffs.

You can only reduce the window that the aircraft is vulnerable, or deploy some kind of countermeasure to provide additional cover.

Only in the worst kind of situation is it acceptable to lose an aircraft like this, especially when you have control of the airspace. In most cases, stealth aircraft should be detected so late that you can't mount an initial defense, or an effective counter attack while the aircraft is returning to base.

From the top of my head using a hatch that folds up into an empty space seems like could reduce the radar signature significantly. I guess better yet a sliding door if avoiding empty space is paramount. I'm no expert but it just seems odd to expose several right angles when it seems it could be easily avoided?

The doors could recess and roll away? I’m not an aeronautical engineer so no idea what that would do with the radar profile nor the flight characteristics of the plane.

The bombs could be ejected at high speed along with the outer hatch door, kind of like a magazine, and then a secondary inner hatch closes to cover the hole.

...but I'm also not an aircraft designer.

That's not an oversight. Stealth is a continuum, not a binary thing.

From what I've read, during a strike, the bombs will show up on the radar anyway. So if the hatch doesn't give away the positions, the bombs will. Also, as a layman, it seems like it would be exceedingly difficult to modify the internals of the bomb bay for not that much benefit.

From what I've read, the US got complacent and flew the same air routes at the same time daily, and in this case the pilot did a climb. The Serb battery commander studied the above and just waited until the right moment.

Interesting to rewind to before the engagement & think about the odds of them both ending up alive years later: there was a chance that Zoltan would be killed by taking a risky third look with the radar from a fixed position. There was a fair chance that both missiles hit Zelko's plane, a chance that any single missile hit would be enough to kill him or render him unable to eject, and a fair chance of him dying anyway even if he did manage to eject. Also a chance that both missiles missed and there would be nothing to write about.

I think it’s pretty interesting to read about pilots shot down in WW1 over enemy territory. They were brought into the enemy’s squadrons and treated with respect. They would talk and laugh. The book The Aviators talks about this a bit.

It also talks about how Rickenbacker didn’t want to kill the people in the airplane he shot down (well it got bitter after Lufbery died). He just wanted to shoot down the airplane and accomplish his mission.

I think fighter pilots don’t have a hatred for the others across the line. They study their skill to have an advantage over the enemy’s systems. It’s not all athleticism. It’s science. As Rickenbacker said “Fighting in the air is not a sport. It is scientific murder.” I would assume the same goes for the SA-3 Low Blow operator.

It's interesting that Zoltan shot down Zelko, and their "second meeting" was filmed by Zeljko.

I'm not casting any doubt, and I realize that one is a first name while the others aren't. It's still interesting.

This reminds me of the single most important thing I learned from my grandfather, or ever perhaps.

He was a submariner in WWII, was at pearl harbor that Sunday morning when the attack started, and through the war with many difficult and dangerous submarine tours (he was nearly killed and received the purple heart in this incident during the 7th war patrol https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Saury_(SS-189) ). After he got better he was part of the occupation of Japan after the war.

My knowledge of him, from him, started many years later after he "retired". Like many like him he never really retired, working as a Sergeant at arms in the Colorado capitol building through most of his Golden years. When young, I would ask him things about the war, his submarine, what he did and saw. He always obliged, but in a way that I have only come to truly appreciate myself until I was well into adulthood. He told me the stories, but always with a jovial, deliberately glass is half full way. I would ask why we're we fighting with them, and he would say things like "they had bad leadership", or "the bad man in charge made them". He would laugh and have a great time telling the parts of the story he did.

I've since come to realize through conversations with my Mother and research I myself have done that there was far more to these stories, none of it appropriate for a young child to grapple with, and all of which completely unknown to me until I was "old enough" (are we ever old enough to process such things as happened in WWII? Perhaps I should just say old enough to better grapple with).

A watershed moment for me was hearing the song "The War Was in Color" by the band Carbon Leaf. In it, a young man comes across his grandfather's chest of old black and white photos from the war. He asks questions, was it in color? The grandfather replies "trust me grandson, the war was in color". And goes onto describe the vivid details of war. My grandfather never did. Instead he shared with us what he learned living in Japan, he taught us how to use chop sticks, he would cook Japanese dishes he learned to prepare while there, he shifted the focus from war. I never once heard him say a disparaging word about anyone, any nationality, especially those with whom he fought.

I knew not what I asked. My grandfather, Irv to those who loved him, had every right to answer my questions. He didn't, he gave me the pieces he knew I needed at that time to build a world view in me that he hoped for our future. A world view where we respect and love eachother for our differences rather than our similarities. Thank you grandpa.

A wonderful story indeed, heart warming with a sense of humor. War is really stupid. But there is still an unsolved mystery here, How did the radar pick up the signals? Didn't the pilot turn off all the radios?

You'll never hear a story like this about a drone pilot.

Speaking of drones and F-117... Somewhat old story, but the "retired" F-117 were not only mothballed, but have been also spotted still flying "regularly". The speculation was that it may have possibly been used in the UCAV context.


I'm reminded of something C.S Lewis shared:

“I have often thought to myself how it would have been if, when I served in the first World War, I and some young German had killed each other simultaneously and found ourselves together a moment after death. I cannot imagine that either of us would have felt any resentment or even any embarrassment. I think we might have laughed over it"

I remember this event as it was yesterday, I was 9 years old living in Serbia during that period. It was a terrifying experience. My uncle-in-law was in the division that shutdown the F-117, he can talk for hours about how they operated and all the technical details.

Thank you for sharing this amazing story. Now I need to go find this documentary.

"Sorry, we didn't know it was invisible" *

-was the famous "apology for shooting down the airplane" that appeared in the news the next day *-Serbs are know for their strong dark humor

I also can't forget the famous antiwar/anti-American graffiti that popped up in Belgrade during that time (saw it on TV): "F** you and your curiosity Columbus"

I don't see much the points of such articles. Of course you as a person is different from the work / social position you have and the stuff you have to do or the positions you have to take.

It's the same than politicians or policemen who don't respect lockdown.. of course they HAVE to say to the population to respect. it's their job and if they say the contrary many people will die. But they are also people so kinda OF COURSE some are not going to respect it.

That doesn't make them hypocrites actually. It makes them humen.

This reminds me of the Soviet blockade of West Berlin. Virtually overnight two sides that had been trying to kill each other were working hand in hand to save the Germans living in Berlin.

>Virtually overnight

Except that the blockade began 3 years after hostilities between the US and Germany ended.

-Considering the scale of the hostilities, I don't think it is much hyperbole to suggest the turn in attitude happened virtually overnight.

I do seem to recall that the Berlin airlift more than any other event was what turned the inhabitants of the western zones around from seeing the Allies as occupants to, well, allies.

I didn't see it covered in this article and the documentary is unavailable through normal streaming at this time. (Anyone in the U.S. find otherwise?)

But what I was hoping to find out was how the identifies of each party was discovered, presumably by the documentary maker?

Growing up in the pre-Internet era Reader’s Digest was such a good resource due to stories like these. Was always excited to see a new magazine arrive every month.

I wonder if it’s any good now. Haven’t looked at it in years.

If those two can find friendship I am hopeful we can find unity in the USA.

Not sure this administration can make that happen, but I hope eventually it will be achieved.

"Those two" found friendship after a war. I'm still holding out hope that's not the example we follow in the US.

All wars are proxy wars. The ones who truly wish to fight never do the fighting

All wars are civil wars, for all men are brothers

Let's not forget that Biden was in favor of bombing Serbia. China does not believe for one second that the bombing of their embassy in Belgrade was an accident.

It is so weird that men in army are willing to go and kill each other and later behave as friends "because they have a shared experience". Is it a coping mechanism to help oneself' conscience? Or maybe just an example that we really are just machines following the program of the day?

They had the same experience. They didn’t choose to fight each other as a matter of specificity, they chose to serve their country.

Soldiers are effectively tools of a nation and most of them understand that. They were both doing their jobs and why should they take it personally? They both came out the other side and if their roles had been reversed they would have done the same thing.

Yeah I get that point of view, "I'm here just following orders, no hard feelings". And that is part of what is weird to me in these stories from wars, that people are so malleable and empty and later talk big about respecting the other side. Well respect them and don't bomb/shoot missiles at them then. Also, the article sounds very artistic and fake, I'm not totally buying it.

Without getting into the politics of it, the purpose of the air strikes according to NATO to "to halt and reverse the humanitarian catastrophe that was then unfolding."[1] - specifically a "ethnic cleansing campaign"[2]. I think it's possible the pilot or others to feel they're there for reasonable reasons, even if they don't hold any particular ill will towards the guy on the other side.



> I think it's possible the pilot or others to feel they're there for reasonable reasons, even if they don't hold any particular ill will towards the guy on the other side.

I agree, it is possible that the man in the article thought that. But I think it more probable that once you choose to work for military as a profession, you are either very misinformed or do not really care about the actual purpose of the bombing.

Can't agree more. "Just doing my job" is a pretty shallow justification for killing another person on vague grounds of "defend my country". Even more so when flying an airplane and just dropping bombs all over the fucking place.

Glad I'm not alone here. I can respect people in 2nd WW thinking "I believe they are evil and must be stopped and I will do anything to help that goal". I can't respect "I'm just working here".

Do you only respect that if you agree with their reasons as well? The kind of rah-rah patriotism for your country isn't one sided. Plenty of axis troops thought they were fighting against evil. Let's also not ignore the fact that service wasn't always voluntary.

It really just seems like you're looking at this with a very limited, black and white perspective. That's your prerogative but it doesn't really line up with the experience of most of the service members I've known and spoken with both personally and professionally.

I can't speak much to the experience of soldiers from other countries but people come into military service in the US from the full spectrum of the country. Wealthy families with generations of decorated officers to young people who really have no better option when it comes to their future. You may disagree with the entire idea of the armed forces but the reality is, especially for those who come from poor socio-economic backgrounds, there is no better option. A stable job that will provide housing, healthcare and education and a ticket away from whatever other negative things that may be going in their life. It's an alluring prospect. (Recruitment practices get pretty gross, I'm sure we can both agree there, but the benefits are very real).

Whether or not that is right is certainly something we can and should debate as a society, but there are a vast number of reasons people joined the armed forces and most of them aren't because they want to do bad things.

I am not saying everybody in military is "just working there". Some may genuinely believe they are doing something noble or at least necessary evil. But some enjoy shooting, killing, torturing people. And some are just taking the opportunity to get a good job or the benefits.

Shooting and killing other people is an enormity, unless there is a necessity or other justification. I'm just saying that "it was war, we had orders, I just worked there" is a false justification that some military men fool themselves with. To go to a foreign country and shoot people there, I would demand a much stronger reason than rhetoric, news coverage, free college, etc.

It's not weird at all. Soldiers on opposite sides have a lot in common, just as you might have a lot in common with someone of your profession from a different country. Their conflict is that of their respective countries, or they may think they're serving a good cause. But in either case, it's not personal.

It's also a mistake to think that every time a soldier shows an ounce of humanity, they're only doing it to "help their conscience". Soldiers are usually not the tortured individuals Hollywood portrays them to be. Why should these two men's consciences bother them? NATO troops thought they were defending the oppressed, and Serbian troops thought they were defending their sovereignty.

I think you are attributing a lot of what goes on to choice - war has a poor track record in this regard and soldiers are often recruited very young and/or conscripted. Even the US recruits soldiers defined by the Convention on the protection of children (below 18). Schools are used for recruiting in many places.

This aspect of war is really sad - giving kids and young adults guns and sending them off to shoot people is widely glorified. It is estimated that 70% of conflicts involve child soldiers, though any measurement is hard due variable definitions and the difficulty in measuring.




I'm talking about the men in this article. Both of them were career military officers. It's fair to say that that was their choice.

Certainly there's propaganda that goes into recruiting naive young people in the US, but it's quite a stretch to equate that with child soldiers. I chose to enlist and so did everyone I served with. The vast majority of us do not regret it or feel that we were conned.

> Certainly there's propaganda that goes into recruiting naive young people in the US, but it's quite a stretch to equate that with child soldiers.

The US has signed The Convention on the Protection of Children. This agreement defines a child solder as one below the age of 18.

You may not feel conned but it’s not just about you - it’s the places they go, the decisions they make and the population they supposedly protect that should also matter.

There is little difference in maturity between a 17 year old and an 18 year old, and I would not consider either a child. And 17 year olds cannot be deployed.

But since we're being legalistic, yes, we signed the convention. But we did not ratify it. It is not legally binding on us.

> But we did not ratify it. It is not legally binding on us.

Yes, mostly.

“When a state has signed the treaty but not ratified it, it is not yet bound by the treaty's provisions but is already obliged to not act contrary to its purpose.”

Why did you enlist, at what age? In retrospective, do you think it made you stronger/more mature? Or was it a money thing?

I enlisted right out of high school. Did my 4 years and got out.

I think it made me more mature, or at least less naive about certain things...eventually. The experiences were valuable but it took a long time for me to fully reflect on them and extract that value. I was 22 when I got out, barely past being a teenager.

Money wasn't a factor for me. I had 96% of my tuition to a good engineering school paid for by scholarships, which I gave up to enlist. My reasons were a combination of things. I had a lot of friends who enlisted and I felt bad that they were risking their lives and I wasn't. I was also sick of school and saw war as an adventurous alternative, and a way to prove myself as a man. And I genuinely believed in the mission at the time.

I think the influence of money on soldiers going into actual combat is overstated. It's true that there are a lot of people who enlist for a paycheck, vocational training, or as a way to pay for college. But you get to choose your job. I was in the infantry, and pretty much everyone I knew legitimately wanted to fight, which is the only reason to join the infantry. If you're after job security or education benefits, you can be a clerk or a mechanic or a thousand other things that will generally keep you away from enemy fire. There's an idea floating around that the government keeps people poor so it'll have an endless supply of desperate peasants to feed into the meat grinder, but that doesn't hold up in my experience.

> This aspect of war is really sad - giving kids and young adults guns and sending them off to shoot people is widely glorified.

The American war machine has a lot of white supremacy elements built into it. Not just camps named after Confederate war criminals but actual common training refrains like "if they's brown, shoot them down" were taught during the invasion of Iraq which played at least some role in the war crimes at Mahmudiyah and Falluja. The Mahmudiyah murders and rapes were most eggrigious especially attempting to cover it up and lay the blame on Al Qaeda.


The Mahmudiyah rape and killings were war crimes involving the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Iraqi girl Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the murder of her family by United States Army soldiers on March 12, 2006. It occurred in the family's house to the southwest of Yusufiyah, a village to the west of the town of Al-Mahmudiyah, Iraq. Other members of al-Janabi's family murdered by Americans included her 34-year-old mother Fakhriyah Taha Muhasen, 45-year-old father Qassim Hamza Raheem, and 6-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza Al-Janabi.[1] The two remaining survivors of the family, 9-year-old brother Ahmed and 11-year-old brother Mohammed, were at school during the massacre and orphaned by the event.

Five U.S. Army soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment were charged with rape and murder; Specialist Paul E. Cortez, Specialist James P. Barker, Private First Class Jesse V. Spielman, Private First Class Brian L. Howard, and Private First Class Steven D. Green[2]).

Lets not forget that Trump also pardons these kinds of criminals.

Oh stop the hand wringing.

The US doesn't recruit child soldiers.

The very few who actually sign up when they are 17 are almost all 18 before they go to bootcamp, and of the extremely rare ones who aren't they are 18 before they go to their first command or do anything at all. They are not allowed to deploy outside the US or participate in any hostilities until they are 18.

18 year olds men are mentally immature. Not children, but for sure they are teenagers.

And yet they get to vote.

Yes, but younger kids get recruited. The voting age in the US is 18 as far as I can tell, and the US military recruits 17 year olds.


As I addressed in my comment above. 17 year olds are allowed to sign up with their parent's consent, but are not allowed to deploy outside the US or take part in any hostilities.

> Why should these two men's consciences bother them?

It would bother me, so I'm projecting.

But good points. I am also more inclined to understand this as a case of people "just working here". Like Germans were.

There's an element of the "just working here" mentality, but it's more than that. I was in Afghanistan more than a decade ago, and in my mind, we were fighting against the abuses and brutality of the Taliban. The guy shooting at me from a mountainside with a PKM was "one of them", a legitimate bad guy.

In retrospect, I realize that guy was probably much like me. A young guy, full of testosterone and looking for adventure, with notions of being part of something grand and heroic (repelling an invader) and a certain naivete about the larger forces and agendas that were using him. We'd probably get along if we met now.

Awhile back I saw a conversation on Reddit between an American soldier who fought in Ramadi (or maybe Fallujah, I can't remember) and an Iraqi soldier who was there at the same time fighting against the Americans. There was no ill will at all, just storytelling and reminiscing, and talking about the courses of their lives, families, and careers since then. The fact was that these guys had almost everything in common about that time in their lives, and had similar motivations for taking part in it. The only difference was that they happened to be on opposite sides.

> Awhile back I saw a conversation on Reddit between an American soldier who fought in Ramadi (or maybe Fallujah, I can't remember) and an Iraqi soldier who was there at the same time fighting against the Americans.

Any chance you might be able to dig up that link? I think it might be interesting to read it.

Unfortunately I can't find it now. I was looking for it earlier because I wanted to reread it myself. Wish I'd bookmarked it at the time. Sorry about that.


Sure, let me just call up all my buddies from my old platoon and apologize to them because some internet know-it-all said I should feel sorry for them. They're all doing great, so they'll laugh at me, but that's probably just an act. Thanks for enlightening me to their true plight.

Have you looked at the actual numbers? I said usually. The veteran suicide rate is roughly double that of civilians [1]. Obviously that's a problem, but it's still a very small minority. Veterans are not dropping like flies.

[1] https://backhome.news21.com/article/suicide/

Anecdotal, but I've witnessed this effect in more than just military men, but rather in males in general. I know lots of guys who tell a story that contains something like; "we got into a fight, but later we became friends"... I'm both, and have done the same. Perhaps there is some more fundamental male psychology at play here?

Ritualistic fights are a common mechanism to resolve conflicts among social animals. Typically neither individual involved wants to get hurt, one of them yields or submits sooner or later, and afterwards there’s no need to remain hostile.

Modern warfare is increasingly buttons rather than bullets, so the psychology is different to (say) meeting the man who bayonetted you after the end of the great war.

There are similar and even more extreme examples from when war was definitely not "buttons": https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_truce

I think the sibling comment to yours is a better explanation.

"lmao you got wrekt, nerd"

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