Sunday, March 2, 2008

Global Guerrillas

Found an interesting site from a reference to it on a mailing list I'm on.

Global Guerrillas describes itself as "Networked tribes, infrastructure disruption, and the emerging bazaar of violence. An open notebook on the first epochal war of the 21st Century. By John Robb"

One of the ideas talked about on Global Guerrillas is catastrophic empowerment, sometimes also called superempowerment. In other words, an individual or small group can do things which formerly only governments could do.

Some of this empowerment comes from technological advancements. This review of Open Source Warfare brings the technological focus into view:

The dark side is certainly there. In the old days, you needed many people to commit significant mayhem—something like a Roman legion, or at least a century. Nowadays, one man with an AK-47 is probably a match for a hundred Roman legionaries, and modern explosives make matters even more asymmetrical. In the foreseeable future, Robb concludes, we may even see a situation where an individual can declare war on the world—and win.

It's not just about technological progress in weapons empowering the individual; communications, engineering, transportation... all can be as significant as kalashnikovs.

Take the example of Henry Okah from Global Guerrillas:

To fund his guerrilla forces, Henry connected the Delta to a global marketplace. To accomplish this, he set up a ecosystem of private entrepreneurs, many of whom were local politicians, to steal oil (aka "bunker") from the pipelines of the major oil companies operating in the Delta. Groups would siphon off barge loads of oil and ferry them out to Henry's leased freighters waiting offshore (which leveraged his experience with Nigeria's merchant marine). In return, the groups were given cash, top of the line western consumer products, and a huge number of weapons (which leveraged Henry's experience as an arms salesman) from the best global manufacturers. Billions of dollars in merchandise were exchanged through this simple system over the last few years. The Delta is now awash in high end weaponry.

Stories like this, among others, remind me of cyberpunk science fiction. Funny how it seems speculative fiction can sometimes predict future trends ( for good and for ill ).

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