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Happy New Year – From ISIS to Russia: How War Changed in 2015 – The Atlantic January 1, 2016

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News.
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One of the great fears in all this is that a gray-zone conflict—involving, say, U.S. and Chinese military vessels sparring in the South China Sea, or Russia threatening to deploy its nuclear arsenal—could tumble into an open one when some party miscalculates.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedMore likely, however, is that the patterns on display in 2015 will become more pronounced in the coming year. According to Laura Jackson, China sees the sea, and the earth generally, as only the start of its Three Warfares campaign—a testing ground for ambitions to control portions of outer space, which Chinesemilitary and legal thinkers see, in the words of one Chinese official, “as a natural extension of other forms of territorial control.” Russian military theory envisionsthe wars of the future moving from “direct clash to contactless war,” from “direct annihilation of the opponent to its inner decay,” from “war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace.” In June, aNew York Times investigation uncovered how a series of web campaigns tried to sow panic in the United States by spreading fake Twitter messages, Wikipedia pages, and online news reports about everything from an ISIS attack in Louisiana to Ebola outbreaks and police shootings in Atlanta. This was not the work of mere pranksters, but targeted disinformation operations launched from a Kremlin-backed “troll farm” in St Petersburg. They were perhaps some of the first skirmishes in what Russian military theorists believe to be the battleground of the future: the minds of men and women, where every business deal, retweet, and Instagram post becomes a way of influencing what these theorists call “the Psychosphere.”

It’s a brave new war without beginning or end, where the borders of peace and war, serviceman and civilian have become utterly blurred—and where you and I are both a target and a weapon.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/12/war-2015-china-russia-isis/422085/

The Paris Terror Attacks Remind Us That ISIS Needs Our Help to Survive – Resilient Corporation December 20, 2015

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, Religion.
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This dream of absolute disconnection from an “evil world” is what all fundamentalists (religious and secular) seek as their collective salvation. In the not too-distant past, such disconnects were far simpler to achieve: head to some desolate place beyond marked borders, plant your flag, and fight off anyone who dared to trespass. This is why religions – as a rule – have always burned hottest along frontiers.

But that’s the thing with globalization: it engulfs frontiers, reformatting local cultures at a disorienting speed. Alongside all those networks arrive unprecedented economic opportunities that have – over the past half century – shrunken the share of humanity suffering extreme poverty to an all-time low of 10 percent. But that global force of change creates enormous local frictions, unleashing all manner of social tensions, civil strife, political revolutions, and extremist movements – all of which put people on the move and further accelerate globalization’s blending dynamics. It’s one thing for your world to be transformed by my networks, but quite another if that process drives you to my doorstep in search of your better life.

Discarded refugee life vests

Discarded refugee life vests

But that’s exactly what continues to happen. Muslims fleeing the Middle East and North Africa for Europe and North America don’t seek to replicate in these new environments the harsh life they left behind. Yes, they want to retain their cultural and religious identities amidst this disorienting transition, but who wouldn’t? The key point is that they seek the combination of social peace, political freedom, and economic opportunity that only a pluralistic, diverse nation-state can provide. These people aren’t seeking refuge in authoritarian regimes; they’re seeking legitimate sanctuary in countries whose capacity for tolerance ensures it. So, again, when we unduly oppress Muslims within our ranks, we essentially endorse ISIS’ message of intolerance and apartheid. We feed their strength while dissipating our own.

In the end, it’s our diversity that renders our nations truly resilient. Indeed, that melting-pot mindset defines these United States – the world’s oldest and most successful multinational union. It’s what makes us resilient in the face of all the vulnerabilities that our open societies present to our enemies as logical targets. The West can – and should – never hope to harden itself sufficiently to withstand any attack without suffering internal perturbations. We cannot firewall ourselves off from this wonderful world of our creating and still thrive.

Instead, we must continue to grow our collective resilience from the bottom-up – family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, and community by community. Resilience helps people where they live by fostering communal bonds built around the basic human instinct for empathy beyond kinship – that rarest of behaviors in nature. All who are willing must be invited to join in this effort, because, the bigger our “tent” is, the sooner we prevail in this struggle to define humanity’s future.

https://resilient.com/the-paris-terror-attacks-remind-us-that-isis-needs-our-help-to-survive/

Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods March 10, 2015

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics, Religion.
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I also watched recent video of ISIS members in a museum smashing (alleged) archaeological relics from the very ancient Mesopotamian past. I felt a certain sense of historical irony while doing so. I wondered as I watched them use sledgehammers and power drills on a 3,000 year old Assyrian statue if they realized that they were following the ancient Assyrian playbook as they tried to erase the region’s past. The Assyrians of that era were masters at the art of atrocity marketing. The concept of publicizing horrific cruelty to cow and intimidate subjects or opponents has a long history, and only fell out of style relatively recently (and not everywhere). 

JoanArc17-eIt’s only in the last century or so that public executions, for example, have become rare. Having people view a burning, beheading or hanging (with or without a torture appetizer) was thought to be something that reinforced law and authority and demonstrated that justice was being carried out. Often it was thought an edifying thing to have children watch.

How would the German public living in the Third Reich have reacted to ISIS-like, slickly produced films showing the scenes inside a death camp gas chamber while people were dying? Even in a nation brainwashed by state-fostered anti-Semitism, it’s hard to imagine the reaction being anything the Nazi regime would have considered positive.

The fact that the Islamic State’s marketing gurus feel otherwise is interesting. Perhaps its more evidence bolstering the idea that ISIS seeks to return to the values of an earlier, much more harsh historical era. If so,we might be seeing a visual and visceral example of what our ancestors might have done with a good TV studio.

If online video existed in the Middle Ages, does the burning of Joan of Arc go viral? Would it go viral today?

via Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods.

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