Iran, North Korea and the Technology Fantasy

07/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I believe in the power of technology. I'm typing this blog on my laptop while sitting in a café, something that would have been considered extraordinary only ten years ago. I am, however, someone who also respects the limits of technology because I am bald. For all of the technology-based solutions available to deal with my hairless dome, all entail the sort of compromises that make them bad choices for me (and for many of the bald men who have nevertheless invested in them). Neither the comb-over nor the hairpiece (rug) fools anyone. Hair implants look like an illustrated coastline in which the artist never gets around to filling in the ocean. And there is no pill or cream that will restore the follicly deficient to anything like normalcy. I can attest to the last based on the six hairs that Rogain 'successfully' restored to me head.

Silly as all of this may sound, it still makes me yearn for more bald politicians. Such people, I would hope, might have more common sense when it comes to the limitation of military technology. In places like Afghanistan, this means understanding that every time we drop munitions from the sky -- no matter what the platform or the guidance system -- there is a good chance that innocents are going be at the receiving end. We may think that's okay but lets not try to fool anyone -- most particularly ourselves -- into thinking that war is anything but hell for those who cannot leave the theater of operations.

Still, to find the height of technology fantasy, we must look to our favorite nuclear rogues -- North Korea and Iran. In the case of the first, the Republicans are back to banging the missile shield, a collective delusion that has nevertheless wasted tens or hundreds of billions of dollars since Regan first confused congress with two words -- Star Wars. My suspicion is that he always meant this as rhetoric -- kind of like our last president suggesting that we send humans to Mars -- but his successors have embraced the idea with something approaching religious zeal. Twenty years later, we're still paying for the confusion. There is simply no engineering-based reason to assume that such a system will work. We still can't reliably shoot down scud missiles -- V2 era rockets -- but we're supposed to trust our lives to a missile shield that will intercept rogue ICBM's? In my humble opinion, we might want to drink from the reality well instead.

And then there are the Iranians. In this case, the hawks place their hope in military strikes on their nuclear sites. That sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong. Iran has buried some of its facilities under hundreds of feet of multi-strata rock and soil, not to mention hardened concrete. There's no bomb or missile in our arsenal -- non-nuclear or nuclear -- that can touch these sites. And yet, there are people who cling to the idea that we have nuclear bunker-busters that would neatly uproot these facilities with minimal fuss or hassle. Never mind the contradiction of trying to eradicate nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons. Focus instead on the fact that there is no science in support of such weapons working. The physics simply isn't there.

All of which returns me to the wisdom of baldness. Sometimes, technology simply doesn't work, and we have to explore practical alternatives, even if they strike us as unattractive. Rogain didn't give me a full head of hair, so I stopped spending money on it. I started shaving my head instead. When it comes to resolving conflict, our politicians should do the same: set aside expensive techno-fantasies in favor of reality -- the only place where real world solutions are ever to be found.