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COMBAT CREW REST AND RECUPERATION: A Dark View of Nevada

A local resident recently organized a local high school art competition. The winning artist, a high school senior, painted a picture of a skeletal woman with playing-card wings rising up through a nuclear mushroom cloud, with a light bulb in one hand and a pistol in the other.

If art is meant to elicit an emotional response from the viewer, then the artist is to be congratulated, because her incredible work did just that. But I wonder where this dark view of Nevada came from? In an interview with the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper, the artist said that her painting represented Nevada's future as well as its past.

That's it? That's Nevada?

Can it be because of all the nuclear explosions here in Nevada? Between 1951 and 1962 there were 125 nuclear tests in Nevada, most of them above-ground (they were so common that they were Las Vegas spectator attractions, just as popular as the growing gaming and mega-casino industry). The last above-ground nuclear test in Nevada was in 1962, and the last explosion of any kind was in 1992. The artist's parents were probably just toddlers when the last above-ground test was completed.

Is it because of the nuclear danger we face in the world today? I agree there is a danger of rogue states like North Korea and Iran developing the capability of building a nuclear warhead, and of groups like al-Qaeda potentially acquiring and using it; I will agree that the exact status of some nuclear material from the former Soviet Union--and even from our own stockpiles--can't be determined; I will agree that there are still thousands of warheads sitting atop intercontinental-range rockets right now poised for war, and thousands more can be ready for use in a matter of months or weeks. But with the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the efforts of arms control negotiators, the danger of nuclear war, although still present, is considerably less than it was when the artist was born.

So why does a senior in high school worry so much about nuclear war? Why does she look past all the natural beauty, the growth, and the opportunities in a great state like Nevada and focus only on the terrible?

I think the world that has been created in the aftermath of Nine-Eleven is mostly to blame. It is a world in which three thousand innocent residents of the most powerful nation on Earth were killed and thousands more wounded and emotionally scarred in four separate sneak attacks IN ONE DAY by the work of a stateless army…

  • a world in which the United States was forced to attack a foreign country twice in just three years to take down an unfriendly nation that harbored terrorists and incited violence against us…

  • a nation in which the United States has vowed pre-emptive and unrelenting war against any other nation who might do the same…

  • a nation in which almost two thousand two hundred American soldiers have died and thousands more wounded, and almost $300 billion spent, in a possibly vain attempt to spread democracy and defeat the terrorists over there before we have to fight them here…

  • a world in which our President has vowed to use any weapon in our arsenal, including nuclear weapons, to destroy those terrorists, even though doing so might trigger more hatred and distrust at best and a global thermonuclear war at worst. We live in a very dangerous world right now, no question, and it's sad to see our young people looking into the future and seeing nothing but death and misery.
  • But I see the conflict, the wars, the struggles, and the sacrifices we're making in this war on terror, and I'm prouder and more hopeful than ever. Here's why:

    All of these dangers--nuclear war, terrorism, "jihad," mistrust, deception, betrayal--existed before Nine-Eleven, but we did little to stop it, and so the horrors came to our shores, and we suffered massive losses. After Nine-Eleven, we decided to do something about it. We decided to leave our homes and bases and shores, the ones we always thought were safe and immune from attack, and hunt down the enemy before they could hit us again. We made a decision to risk the lives of our best soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Guardsmen, and Reservists to take the battle to the enemy.

    It's not pretty, heroic, inspirational, or even very patriotic. War is nothing but a bloody horror. But it's a dirty job that has to be done by brave soldiers and committed leaders who believe that what they are doing is sacrificing a few, sacrificing happiness and peace and comfort, so that the republic can survive.

    I think that deserves a painting. It's sad we saw something else entirely…but it shouldn't deter us from the ultimate goal of peace and security through the American way.

    Click here for more on Act Of War

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    Act Of War (June 2005)

    ACT OF WAR introduces a whole new hero and a new conflict to techno-thriller fans around the world.

    A series of deadly terrorist attacks in the United States and South America--including a nuclear attack near Houston, Texas--has the entire world on red alert. The attacks appear to be targeting an American energy company, but the terror group that calls itself GAMMA seems to be more than the anti-globalization, pro-environmental activists it claims to be.

    Enter U.S. Army Major Jason Richter and his partner, Dr. Ariadna Vega of the Army Research Lab's Infantry Transformational BattleLab. These two young engineers have designed and built a land combat system designed to replace an entire motorized infantry squad: CID, or Cybernetic Infantry Device, a piloted robot with the speed and firepower of a weaponized Humvee, the strength of a bulldozer, and the agility of a special ops commando.

    The hard-charging National Security Adviser, Robert Chamberlain, pairs Richter and Vega up with an FBI intelligence expert, Special Agent Kelsey DeLaine, and a veteran special ops expert, Command Sergeant Major Ray Jefferson, to form Task Force TALON, the first joint military-FBI unit charged with hunting down and stopping terrorists anywhere in the world. With CID's speed, power, weaponry, and amazing capabilities, combined with the talents of the U.S. Army and the investigative skills of the world's greatest detective agency, TALON is designed to put terrorists on the run around the globe.

    But putting conflicting and single-minded personalities like Richter and DeLaine together is like mixing oxygen and gasoline: do it right and it produces horsepower--do it wrong, and it creates an explosion. Even the National Security Adviser can't seem to control his team. Can Task Force TALON survive long enough to hunt down GAMMA and its secret puppetmaster, the shadowy Consortium, before the next deadly attack?

    "The novels of Dale Brown brim with violent action, detailed descriptions of sophisticated weaponry and political intrigue... His ability to bring technical weaponry to life is amazing."
    --San Francisco Chronicle

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