Nets and Jets

Bruce Sterling has a deep-thinking post at Wired today. Chris reports on Chris Parry's speech at the Royal United Service Institute--the oldest military think tank in the world. In the speech, rear admiral Perry reports on some of the counterintuitive results of neoliberal policies--cheap airfare and ubiquitious/easy communication.

The technological drivers of globalization have enabled stateless barbarians to seize the initiative. You can’t keep them out by blocking the border, and the harder you smash the failed states that nurture them, the more they thrive. At the first sign of weakness, these new-wave Vandals will log on to urge their diasporic compatriots to attack you on your own soil. Failing that, they’ll hop on the next flight, pick up their baggage, and sidle into Starbucks to download the latest instructions from Abu Ayyub al Masri...Nets and jets are never a one-way street, and even Parry’s reverse colonization can reverse itself. Consider Somalia, which, for 15 years, has been a running sore of new world disorder. Jets have evacuated everyone who could buy a ticket and have flown in battalions of jihadists. As for nets, this lawless maelstrom is one of the most heavily wired regions of Africa; free of licensing, taxes, and state-owned monopolies, entrepreneurs have been building out cell capacity and Net nodes like Silicon Valley whiz kids. To complicate matters, counter-terrorist warlords said to be financed by the US recently lost the country to a loose association of Islamic militias. This makes Somalia a prime case study for the darkest nets-and-jets forecast.

I'm not sure I totally buy Mr. Sterling's silver lining of hope that neoliberal economic and political policies and neoconservative military enforcement of neoliberal policies can get ahead of technologically-enabled smart mobs. Still, I really hope he is right.

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