US carriers faced again with distributed and tech aware terrorism



Yesterday I was with some of my team up in Dublin when the spectre of terrorism reared its ugly head again.  We got lucky and caught a flight back to London City so my experience of the chaos was limited to a televised experience and a bunch of blaring radio announcements (typically: "the US authorities advise that no liquids will be allowed on any planes").  A number of things struck me on this day:

  • there was no hint of triumphalism from the UK authorities as they unveiled details of the plot, only that determinedly British matter-if-factness in the announcements.  I think this is because they know it is unfortunately only a question of time before the terrorists make it.
  • I was reminded of a recent analysis by a senior security figure in the UK (Chris Parry), who said open networks and air travel were our biggest security risks as terrorists become connected and globe-trotting individuals (Bruce Sterling article in  Wired – August 2006).  Guess what, a terrorist cell and  a startup (take OpenBC for example) probably operate in much the same way…
  • The US  Media  keep referring to the war on terror.  I am reminded of analyses of why the US lost the Vietnam war: it had nothing to do with tech or firepower and everything to do with the ability  of the Northerners to tune the intensity of the war; they could have kept fighting for another 20 years.  The same is by defnition true of global terrorism, so conceptualising it as a war (Newt Gingrich is now blabbing that we are in a state of global war, that the third world war has already started) is the best way to ensure democracies keep opening new fronts that they cannot deal with properly.  I can only hope that the India – Pakistan situation does not deteriorate.

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