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Technology, Terrorism and the Global Societal Conflict

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2003 By RDFollendoreIII


January 7, 2003


Global terror and societal conflicts threaten the existence of us all. Technology and knowledge put the ability to create weapons of mass destruction into the hands of anyone willing to manufacture them.  It is impossible to absolutely limit technology and knowledge without placing restrictions that also have the potential of limiting future survival. Ultimately it is also impossible to significantly limit the potential of technology and knowledge of doing harm without describing a totalitarian world society.  If this is the solution that we choose for mankind then so be it.  But there are alternative possibilities that are not being considered.    

There are negative and positive ways to deal with the creation and growth of global terrorism.  The negative way is to search out, punish and destroy the terrorists.  The positive way is to understand and then eliminate the means by which terrorism as a global societal conflicts come into being.  This is analogous in medical research to defeating cancer by redefining the bodies immunity system rather than implementing an invasive surgical procedure.  Our American national agenda should be to intelligently define a preemptive first line of solutions that detect and defeat the implementation of terrorist organizations before they come into existence. We can start to achieve this through the recognition of the importance of sociological value systems in context with the technical means through which values are exchanged. Our second line of solutions to terrorism must be to establish economic and political alternatives in such a way that they undercut the base values of terrorist organizations and societal conflicts that spontaneously arise.  Both of these lines of defense can be achieved with the degree of honor and honesty that can not be accomplished through propaganda. Most importantly, we must use these mechanisms to assure that when society may be required to use punishing and destructive force, it is using it appropriately and most effectively.    


This "war" that we Americans are attempting to fight with fleets of ships and B-52 bombers is not a "war on terrorism" so much as it is a world wide societal conflict of concepts and values.  What our leaders must keep in mind is that terrorism is an event. As such, it is also a despicable means to an end. This "thing" we are seeing is a new kind of international warfare of the classes.  It is a natural but unethical extension of the commercial war of persuasion where no real ethnic boundaries exist.  This thing doesn't really have a well centered religious basis containing a true majority. There is no major religion that supports the doctrine of terrorism. It represents an expansion of radical ideas that are more representative of cult than culture. Such leaders purchase their right to lead by founding and providing economic support for their following. Their followers represent an impressionable faction that are taught that the enemies of perfection are the powers that be.  They are then "given" the unique opportunity to "be something more" than what they would otherwise be.  In a way, the followers of terrorist leaders are like children being lead to the slaughter.  Once they discover this, it is too late. They feel they must reinvest in their actions or face the consequences.


To identify a positive approach we must begin to recognize the quandary in which terrorist leaders find themselves. Terrorist leaders are not children, but neither are they recognizable as legitimate civilized world leaders. By definition they can not be. They become stuck in a transparent state of factional parity through the very means which they achieve organized leadership. Like adolescents doomed to adolescence forever, they may have once been capable of anything but are unable to extend their leadership skills beyond their limited threshold for destruction. Like adolescence their effectiveness is ill defined and to them justifiable. Like adolescents who rebel against the foundations of society, the followers of terrorism are unable or unwilling to recognize the difficulties of achieving justice within complexity, followers of terrorism expect their struggle to force a shortcut to their leaders utopia. But like adolescent gangs, what the grass roots members really require is to be listened and included. In the case of the global terrorist, they desire to be more than participants in a globalized system that they do not and can not understand.  What terrorists share with rebellious adolescence is the conflicting conviction that they do not want to be dominated as an ideal, though they need to be dominated as individuals.  


These are not pointless sociological observations for they are the potential means by which strategies can be created to engage and then defuse potential situations without having to constantly resort to the destructive and expensive concept of war. The enabling mechanism for the global terrorism we are seeing is technology.  The means by which we as a civilized society choose our strategies for the development of technology affects the ways in which we are able to deal with global societal conflict. We need to look at those enabling causes and effects.  Society desperately needs to better understand the sociological differences. For instance, with modern global terrorism comes the observation that "globally diffused" independent self determination has been communicated across what were once economic and social barriers.             


Just as radio once required a specific frequency in order to operate, so too organizations required a specific location in which to organize.  That is no longer the case.  The dissemination of communication technology has changed organizations in much the same way that spread spectrum technology changed radio. The fact that an organized political will of a terrorist organization no longer requires any specific geopolitical border as a base is a social change that has been largely brought on through the establishment of ubiquitous international communications.  Technology created the basis by which they are able to organize.  

The utopian ideal of the Internet began by the idea that through simply opening channels of communication, ideas and concepts can be exchanged and solutions to problems discovered.  We did not then and we still do not allow communications and sociology experts to have a say in such  experiments. What we are constantly discovering is that communication is a two edged sword.  It is by definition both a good and a bad thing.  We have found solutions through new forms of communication technology.  But the complexity and difficulty of sociological problems we face has increased through communication. It has essentially stirred the soup of world society.  Technology has increased cultural interaction faster than the traditional organizational means to deal with those problems that arise.  


The response that organized societies have to this social change and relating social change with respect to communication technologies will make the difference in the way that we all are able to coexist in the future.  If the United States attempts to continue to play the role of the superpower who bullies political, economic and military correctness, then it is inevitable that we will be principally involved in conflicts that will not be in our national interest.  We simply do not have the means nor the wherewithal to achieve the kinds of military results that are required across sovereign boundaries without severe implications to our political and economic welfare. We must look for technological solutions that help us solve some of these societal conflicts before they begin. If we do not then as a nation we shall remain forever stuck in the imperial role that is not of our choosing.


It is unrealistic to assume that the United States can continue to operate both fairly and unilaterally as the World Police without risk of conflict and the potential of grave danger to our national security. Our internal interests and ideals are far too narrow for so many diverse cultures. It is a fair statement to say that just because we Americans may be considered as the "melting-pot" does not mean that the American culture fits all. It can't. What is happening since 911 is not merely the surface face of acts of "terrorism," it is the slow recognition that the American national image is becoming loathed, feared and often hated by a cross section of people whose opinions are not necessarily represented by governments.    


The bottom line is that if we do not step up to the technological imperative of preventing terrorism and the global societal conflicts that bring about terrorism then we will not succeed. The doctrine to accomplish this represents a new and modern approach for society. The United States Government must be willing to establish and lead an academic research panel that can research, implement and deploy the technological means through which this doctrine can be accomplished.  Furthermore we must invite positive participation of other countries. America is not alone in this.



Engineering War

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) RDFollendoreIII


January 6, 2003


Some men engineer things that the majority of others do not want.  War is such a thing.  Most people say that they do not want war.  They refuse to acknowledge that they are part of any possible war by design.  But they also do not want to be part of the "enemy" who come back from the battlefield defeated or in a body bag.  If war is to exist, then it should be "over there."  If someone has to die in war, it should be that other guy. If a city has to be destroyed it should be that other guys city.  These are the rational reasons why we are all part of wars engineering design. When it comes right down to it, we Americans support war.  It does not make any difference why, as long as war is presented to us an inevitable and somewhere else.  This is the nasty bottom line.  If we are victors we can always justify our reasons for waging war later.   


 By the time that war actually occurs, war has already been engineered.  There was a momentum that was required.   The momentum that goes into engineering war is something that few people are willing to discuss.  It is easy to get people to discuss the reasons and justifications why war should take place.  It is easy to get people to explain why we need all kinds of weapons to protect us.  The hard part is the discussion that involves how we participate in what is essentially a contract to go to war.  It is hard to talk about how the accumulation of weapons leads us to war.  The "war experts" do not want to discuss the fact that weapons manufacturers have a stake in the destruction of the weapons systems that they create.  The Pentagon does not like to state the obvious fact that is the industry of engineering weapons that designs tomorrows battlefield horrors.  The doctrine of war is still concentrated overwhelming lethal force upon the enemy.  The pinpoint accuracies of modern bombs were never designed or purchased to save lives; they were engineered to destroy lives more effectively.


Maybe the effect of new weapons that are more accurate is the saving of more lives. After all, bombs that miss a target 60% of the time is 60% more likely to hit something that was not intended.  But such weapons were justified in engineering terms as "force multipliers."  It takes fewer resources to do the job and that fact allows less to do more in less time.  The byproduct is that using less over a shorter period of time puts less at risk. This is the great revolution in modern warfare. With modern weapons systems we can now expect to go into a conventional state of war and risk the lives of a handful of men and women, while killing tens of thousands.  The point is that the risks are lower, but so are the justifications for war.  With advanced engineered weapons it seems that we do not appear to have to be as tolerant of the candidates who would be our enemy.


This is an old story and the idea is really a trap.  Because we have created a longer sword, a certain culture seems to have a clear advantage. They try to take advantage of their new-engineered "technology" of war. Then that culture finds out the effectiveness of shields. The culture with shields becomes the dominant aggressors. Then some other culture discovers a way to penetrate the shield.  This is the history of the engineering of warfare for many thousands of years. Somehow we now are willing to think that things will change.  Once we agree to ignoring this, we become the implements of the engineering of war. Sure war is sometimes necessary when it is brought upon us.  But is this particular war something that we should be doing? This is the question that we as well as other societies must be willing to discuss and debate openly if we are not to become like many broken nations.

Americans are now in the dominant military situation where we are willing to engage in warfare on a pretense that is not being presented to us as observable facts. This affects how we might react to certain questions, which become inevitable in war.  What number of American casualties would be worth our success? If we were to lose five or ten soldiers, would that be worth our involvement?  What if that number were a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, or a hundred thousand? How many causalities would it take for America to change it's mind?  That is the question that our enemy commanders are now asking themselves.  But the engineering of a war goes beyond weapons and destruction. 


No one is comfortable witnessing the gruesome effects of war, particularly when they are the side of the ones engineering those effects.   As weapons systems become more and more accurate, not only are the causalities of the side using the weapons less acceptable, so are causalities presented through the media. The side with the weakest military might be able to be expected to engineer their version of the war through the media, simply by reporting the facts as they are. There are many levels of the modern engineered battlefield.  Taking a position is not the same kind of problem as holding a position.  It is the battlefield of public opinion in which wars are ultimately won or lost. 


To strip away modern wars engineered advantage is to strip modern warfare to what it really has become. It is a horrific real time media event.  If on a level battlefield, two determined warring sides were equally modernized with the latest in war engineered technology, the life expectancy of any resource put into combat would be a matter of minutes.  Success would primarily depend on timing.  When war has passed and the bodies are buried, the destruction is cleaned up and the buildings are rebuilt, we will have been changed in some way.  We should not make the mistake that war can be engineered to create peace. War is simply the opposite of peace. What we choose to do with peace is up to us. The lasting result of war is not peace because peace cannot exist without both reasonable and rational tolerance.  The most profound and lasting result of the engineering of war are the images and the memories of the media.  When this war is over, the next is always being engineered.  The simple underlying rule is that as we are more successful in engineering military objectives in war with less risk to ourselves, the less necessary pretense and justification for war becomes.  

These are the reasons why national dialogue and debate within the media are fundamental requirements for national security.  If the history of humanity’s engineering war should have taught us anything, it is that the means are not the justification for the end.




Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved