Wednesday, July 7, 2010

...it's called Project Mayhem

 John Robb is up to his usual insanity. And I say that with nothing but kindness. He notes how insurgents in Afghanistan are targeting contractors working on large-scale projects. He says that
...this type of targeting increased costs by 50-100% and seriously delayed (or fully stopped) projects.  This is typically much more effective than an attack on military personnel, although it appears that in today's attack DAI got lucky.
 This in a vacuum is not much more than a statement of fact. But this is John Robb. Nothing ever sits in a vacuum.
Yet, in modern western societies, this elite group and their specialists are able to dissociate themselves from jobs when it comes to their private lives.  They live unencumbered within our impersonal society.  This window of vulnerability creates a yawning opportunity for innovative forms of disruptive non-violent protest.
 He then goes on to describe turning a "coercive tool" like the Chinese Human Flesh Search Engine into an "online game". He emphasizes the non-violent aspect of this, but the backbone is awfully similar to the contractor attacks in Afghanistan. It's really just open-source intelligence gathering. It's studying a target and finding out where his weaknesses and your strengths can be best leveraged. In Afghanistan, it's violent attacks on contractors in the open ground when they're out of their compounds. In the internet, it's targeting weak links in their online identity. In all honesty, it sounds a whole lot like Fight Club.

There are two different angles I'd like to take on this. The first is that the heavy-industry contractors are some of the most gloriously imperialistic folks in the whole Mission Civilatrise. I realize that sentence sounds a bit more politically inflammatory than I meant it, but its still a lot of white-folks building white-folk stuff for white-folk use. The whole "OMG MINERALS!" aside, there's been an awful rate-of-return on the projects going on in Afghanistan. Using attack-magnets to build huge projects doesn't help (which is why I'm such a huge proponent of seeding the country with small projects).

Secondly, Mr. Robb's "game" sounds an awful lot like a pet-project I've been wanting to run for a while (and was Plan A for a bit this summer until I stumbled into Istanbul instead. It's the sort of thing that NewEurasia would be wonderful with (and that its founders I'm sure would not be interested in); creating a database of corruption in Central Asia. Create a list of the corrupt cops, bogus mayors, and other such scam artists anonymously in order to scorn and shame them. Think of it as the complete and utter opposite of Registan's "The Murdered Journalists of Central Asia" Memorial. It's the sort of extra-legal, non-violent, thing that an anonymously attended blog hosted in a foreign country could do great things with. I'm not sure how to conquer the culture of fear, but I think that fighting back (to a reasonable extent, of course) is a great place to start.

Both of these are theories that I'd love to flesh out in the upcoming weeks. Watch this space.

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