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I think that there is are new generations of the military - brought up on and in, the information age - who know perfectly well that the age of big metal, and baroque weaponry, is over.

Perhaps one of the most perceptive and radical thinkers in the UK military/MOD flew up and spent most of a day with solveig and I in connection with the future of a networked society, and its implications for military strategy.

It was a fascinating discussion (for us, anyway!) which arose out of a bout of concern (post Lehman) of the potential effects of economic collapse on a modern economy. Our friend said that the real wake-up call for the Powers-That-Be was the UK fuel protests, when refineries etc were shut in by lorry drivers, and the fragility of 'just in time' infrastructure became clear.

Also, at a conference I attended in Lausanne a few years ago re '"Economic Terrorism" (sponsored and convened by the US Dept of homeland security) there was recognition, for instance, that a few malicious people/economic terrorists seeding the US Mid West with foot and mouth virus constituted a colossal economic threat. Potential losses running to multiple billions, achievable, like 9/11, at minimal cost.

When I spoke re energy markets, there was no disagreement with my thesis in relation to the vulnerability of clearing houses etc as 'single points of failure' and my observation that the only difference between hedge funds and 'economic terrorists' is motive.

I believe that there is a window of opportunity to redeploy the military industrial complex to a different campaign - ie the survival of the planet - and that the enabling factor is pervasive direct instantaneous communication.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Oct 21st, 2009 at 07:44:46 AM EST
The thinkers you spoke with are resident in a military culture that has at it's disposal a few percent of the cash shoveled into the pentagon's dumpster.
Perhaps budgetary hunger stimulates the brain.
I believe that there is a window of opportunity to redeploy the military industrial complex to a different campaign - ie the survival of the planet - and that the enabling factor is pervasive direct instantaneous communication.

That's a pretty provocative statement, Chris. I agree the potential to do great things would be there with a redirected military/industrial machine humming down the green highway, but--given this "pervasive instantaneous communication"-- then what? The military I know so well will think, first, how the enemy can jam it, then how to censor it, then how dissidents might use it to foment ---insurgencies.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Oct 21st, 2009 at 08:11:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i've long believed the military would be useful for large greening projects. it would give them a sense of identity that's wider and more benign.

kinder, gentler killing machines.

who, when they're not 'needed' for enemy-disposal, can balance their karma by doing stuff that lil' folks can't on their own. tree planting, well digging, levee building.

keep them fitter than always blowing shit up, too.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Oct 21st, 2009 at 10:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
geezer in Paris:
and that the enabling factor is pervasive direct instantaneous communication.

In fact I left a lot out by putting it like that. Although cyberwarfare is definitely a growth area, I wasn't really referring to that.

I think that the changes in political economy which flow from globally networked markets and financial systems could lead to a mechanism which gives the military industrial complex a more 'profitable' area of investment. ie to turn swords to green ploughshares could well become the smart thing to do, economically.

It is energy shortage that will lead to a pull-back by the US, and ensure that no single dominant nation is in a position to project global power in the same way as the US, and the British before them.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Oct 21st, 2009 at 10:19:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The military I know so well will think, first, how the enemy can jam it, then how to censor it, then how dissidents might use it to foment ---insurgencies.

Construe "the military" to include "the security state" and I am certain that they are already monitoring the web in what they conceive as a very sophisticated manner.  They have, in effect, told us so. The fiber optic feeds go through splitters and one stream goes to NSA.  This came to light under B43.

At this point there is likely no point in doing more than just monitoring the sorts of discussions occurring on ET, Booman DKos, etc., but I am reasonably certain that such sites are characterized and categorized by multiple agencies. But there are severe limits on the amount of reasonably high level analyst time can be devoted to non-critical matters. But then what do we know of what others think is "critical."

So I chose just to "not let it bother me."  I believe I know approximately where the bounds of civil discourse are, and I know what are supposed to be my individual rights under the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for whatever protections those may afford, and I attempt to remain within those as well.

Meanwhile I continue my feeble attempts at subverting the blinders with which we are provided by the conditions of our culture and society. A lot more people than some might expect are coming to see just how invidious to the interests of >95% of the population are the current power arrangements in the US and Europe and how detrimental to the welfare of that >95% majority are the policies that are directed to the benefit of the <1% minority.  I find that this is becoming apparent to store clerks, plumbers and other ordinary people I meet in Northern Arkansas.

I think those inside the D.C. beltway are also beginning to sense this.  Thus the Kabuki around the bailout bonuses and the threats to remove anti-trust exemptions for the insurance industry. The real question will be what they will do if and when it becomes obvious that relatively cheap gestures and the offering up of scapegoats is insufficient.

The 2010 mid-term elections are only 54 weeks away. The Masters Of The Universe may think that they have put the genie back in the bottle, but first they had to glue the bottle back together.  The system is unstable, non-linear and under stress.  If even a few of those with underwater residential mortgages decide to stop paying and gamble on the banks not being able to show title, that alone could bring the system down.

The MOTU and their nominees at the Fed and Treasury have accomplished a putative recovery by tossing the futures of most US citizens into the machine. The longer it goes, the worse the end will be.  How much longer can the levitation and manipulation continue? Until it doesn't, I suppose, and it will collapse rather suddenly.

On the bright side, at least we get to know how it feels to be a millenarian, waiting for The End. I think that The Long War, hubris beyond dreams of grandiosity, will likely be a lot shorter than the Iraq war--not because the US population will rise up against it, but because, when the next shoe drops, when the next down leg in the economy comes, it will be spectacular and the pretense that we can afford a Long War will be exposed for the folly it is. Should we attempt to wage it, that will accelerate the loss of global reserve status for the US Dollar.  Without that ace and without the support of solvent allies, how can we finance such a war?

The real dark side is the possibility that the current system could prop itself up for another 5-10 years, but for that to happen, the bad debt would have to be dealt with. It doesn't appear that that will happen any time soon, and wealth has become so concentrated that all that now remains is for the MOTUs to turn on each other. Trying to extract more money from the general population is coming to be like extracting gold from US Midwest topsoil. Have a nice time at the top of the pyramid, Goldman.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Oct 21st, 2009 at 11:04:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
 The system is unstable, non-linear and under stress.  If even a few of those with underwater residential mortgages decide to stop paying and gamble on the banks not being able to show title, that alone could bring the system down.

But I'm sure that is a problem that can be solved by their pet Congress. I'd call it the They-Don't-Need-To-Show-Title-Because-We-Say-So-Act.
by generic on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 06:41:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopefully, that would be blocked by those concerned with the popular vote next year.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 11:46:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And fortunately, the markets and market perceptions move a lot faster than Congress.  If such a phenomenon emerged, the damage could be done before the act was passed.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 11:49:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Executive order?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 12:01:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One-term president.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 04:06:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revolving door.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 04:40:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The prospect of being a one term president might be the ONLY thing that could get Obama to get tough on the banks.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Oct 22nd, 2009 at 08:19:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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