2007/08/30

Digging the grave

Counter-insurgency (COIN) warfare has a dirty side; most of it is about controlling the population. Census, ID cards, checkpoints, databases and the like are more important for COIN than aircraft and tanks. They serve to control the population, to suppress their support for insurgents and to identify insurgents in the mass of the people.

But COIN waged by industrialized nations like the USA leads inevitably to attempts to improve the ability to control the people with technological means. Projects like this exceed everything that George Orwell was able to imagine for his novel "1984".

This means that the Western societies are in a dilemma - they can develop technologies for their military (especially for small wars) for small benefits in wars abroad. But at the same time they construct the tool set for the greatest imaginable internal intelligence apparatus - tools that can be used to turn our free states into totalitarian states without any chance of uprising.

We do already install cameras into our cities to watch public places and develop software to make better use of them. Face recognition software becomes able to identify people, databases intended to search for terrorists by tracking people can easily be converted for a search on dissidents.

Terrorism is a very small threat in comparison to historical threats - insurgents in distant places are no threat at all to us, at our home. They only threaten our troops who occupy their country/support the local puppet regimes.

But our reaction to these small threats includes digging our own grave by preparing for an authoritarian or even dictatorial regime at home.

Sven Ortmann

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