Our narrowing world

The Independent offers predictable advice to the British public after a terror bombing attack on a concert for teenage girls in Manchester that left more than 20 killed and 3 score mutilated and crippled for life. The writers confidently assert that "there's only one way Britain should respond to attacks such as Manchester. That is by carrying on exactly as before."

They themselves may do so if they wish but there may be a scarcity of followers. The latest in a line of phrases like "we can't let hatred change us; this is not who we are etc" sound like the pleadings of a cult leader to the faithful after the Mothership failed to arrive.  The faithful are heading for the door.  In fact the pixels were hardly dry on the computer monitors when the Independent itself reported panic as hundreds ran from real or imagined peril inside a Manchester shopping mall.

Terror has already changed us in ways ranging from the gradual collapse of the Schengen area, intrusive inflight security including a ban on electronic devices in flight  to the inevitable tightening of security at all future concerts and exhibitions.  If there's one thing Ariana Grande will have at future concerts it's security grande.  Even the virtual world which once promised to be the frontier of freedom has become a hacker-haunted place.  Your phone now spies on you.  Mass surveillance is ubiquitous. Passwords to your social media accounts can be demanded at borders.  That email that just arrived in your inbox may contain an attachment from the Shadow Brothers that can encrypt all the files on your hard disk unless you pay them $500 in Bitcoin to retrieve a decoder key.

Government is losing its credibility as an effective protector.  Under these circumstances "carrying on exactly as before" is likely to have a meaning opposite to Independent's intention.  For most people it will mean continuing to batten down the hatches and rebuilding the trust networks so foolishly discarded when they put their trust in the State. The vision of future may prove to be not the borderless EU after all -- but Israel.  If government fails to protect people they are likely to fall back on tribalism and wire instead.

The issue is whether order can recover before the world fragments into a patchwork of affinity groups. Tribes have considerable advantages after all. They are designed to provide trust, a commodity often more valuable than the theoretically greater military potential of an open group.  An open group without trust is a kill zone. US forces faced green on blue or "insider" attacks in Afghanistan they responded by reviving their own tribe.

Part of the reason green-on-blue attacks have subsided since 2012 is because security measures were put in place to prevent such incidents following the spike (there were only two green-on-blue attacks in 2008, five in 2008 and 2009, and 16 in 2011, according to a tally compiled by the Long War Journal). Among the changes to security were “guardian angels,” or NATO soldiers who watch over NATO and Afghan troops.

Tribes and clans are still used when information security and omerta are paramount.  No technical solution yet devised can beat treachery.  Only loyalty can do that -- and we have made loyalty, to nation at least, a bad word.  Looking at data breaches within the US, the Harvard Business Review noted that  while "external attacks ... get plenty of attention .... insiders can do much more serious harm ... According to various estimates, at least 80 million insider attacks occur in the United States each year. But the number may be much higher, because they often go unreported."

You can't operate without trust.

If we are to prevent a new medievalism finding the right balance between an open society and maintaining loyalty and allegiance is necessary.  It is a difficult task under any circumstances.  But rarely has anyone failed more dismally at it than the leaders of our multi-culti world.  By stigmatizing calls for reasonable loyalty as bigotry they have climbed out on a limb and sawed themselves off; by their dogmatic insistence on mindless inclusion they've foreclosed all attempts to bring things back to even keel.  They have reduced themselves to the level of hapless bystanders, unable to either prevent or explain an onslaught they themselves -- were they honest enough to admit it -- should have foreseen.

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Books:

The Mattis Way of War: An Examination of Operational Art in Task Force 58 and 1st Marine Division, Author Major Michael L. Valenti examines General James N. Mattis's staffing philosophies, the influence of history on his operational planning and execution, and his general command and leadership philosophies using Task Force 58 as a formative base. A brief look at his time commanding the 1st Marine Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom (Oif) examines whether his philosophies and concepts evolved or remained consistent.

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution (pre-order: to be released on June 13, 2017), by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg. CRISPR is the cheapest, simplest, most effective way of manipulating DNA ever known. In this book, Doudna shares the thrilling story of her discovery, but also passionately argues that enormous responsibility comes with the ability to rewrite the code of life, an argument that echoes her call for a worldwide moratorium on the use of CRISPR in the spring of 2015. With CRISPR, she shows, we have effectively taken control of evolution. What will we do with this unfathomable power?

Swift Boats at War in Vietnam, edited by Guy Gugliotta, John Yeoman, and Neva Sullaway. The stories in this book cover the Swift Boats’ early years, which saw search-and-inspect operations in Vietnam’s coastal waters, and their later years, when the Swift Boats' mission shifted to the Mekong Delta’s labyrinth of 3,000 miles of rivers, streams, and canals. An intimate, exciting oral history of Swift Boats at war in Vietnam.

China's Asian Dream: Empire Building along the New Silk Road, by Tom Miller. Combining a geopolitical overview with on-the-ground reportage from a dozen countries, this book offers a fresh perspective on the rise of China and what it means for the future of Asia. From the Mekong River Basin to the Central Asian steppe, China is flexing its economic muscle for strategic ends. By setting up new regional financial institutions, it is challenging the post-World War II order established under the watchful eye of Washington, and by funding and building roads, railways, ports and power lines across Eurasia and through the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, China aims to draw its neighbors ever tighter into its embrace.

For a list of books most frequently purchased by readers, visit my homepage.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

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