inkwell.vue.134 : Bruce Sterling 2002: The State of the Whirled
permalink #76 of 82: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 11 Jan 02 09:33
    
Good point.  We spent the soviets into submission.  Can't do that with
enemies who don't have to purchase the usual shopping lists of
government, to deal with infrastructure and social needs, who are
diffuse and distributed enough to not really even need defense spending
per se.  Just low-budget offense and minimal coordination, if any.
  
inkwell.vue.134 : Bruce Sterling 2002: The State of the Whirled
permalink #77 of 82: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 11 Jan 02 10:12
    

Yeah, I've been wondering what the victory condition
looks like.

We might win this.  It sounds farfetched now,
but it was also supposed to be impossible to have
*conventional* military predominance.   But the US
most definitely achieved that: unrivalled, overwhelming,
conventional military power, on a global scale.
If you went and asked Grant or Pershing or Eisenhower
or MacArthur about our situation now, they wouldn't call
us victims;  they'd say we were in Oz.

If guerrilla assaults were supposed to be the be-all
and end-all, nobody would have invented armies.
Anybody can be a terrorist and yeah, it's cheap -- but
armies have profound advantages.  Simple advantages,
like logistics and a tax base. Unlike terrorists,
generals don't have to twitch in their sleep
and trade bedrooms every night.  Their files are
safe.  There's a chain of command and a career path.
There's professional esprit de corps.  And compared
to conspiracies, armies are huge.

Robin Hood gets a lot of admiring press, but y'know, there
are still law enforcement officials in Nottingham.
Robin's not around.

The US military kinda  gets it about guerrillas. They
can do guerrilla.  It's in the doctrinal manuals for
small unit engagements.  If you want to hide in the mountains
and ambush convoys in the dark, they'll hide in the mountains
and ambush *your* convoys in the dark, only they get night-vision
goggles and Kevlar body armor and satellite phones.

People always claim that the US gets bored fast,
but so does everybody else.  The US has outlasted
a lot of enemies.

Iran was a fanatical Islamic revolutionary state back in
the 1970s.  They couldn't keep the fervor up.
The kids born in Iran since then despise their own
regime and envy the diaspora kids.

You've got to be pretty goddamn keyed up to be willing to blow
yourself up at a moment's notice for decades on end.
Iran might well decide that theocracy is a shuck and
cave in, Soviet-style.  Then what is a mujihadeen to do?
At some point it gets simpler to put down the gun
and get a job -- assuming you haven't ruined your
society so thoroughly and utterly that there's
no such thing as a job possible.  And who knows,
maybe at that point the Diaspora floods back in
and just buys everything.

Maybe that is the victory condition: Very Nervous
New World Order.

If the USA, Europe, Russia and China all agree that
only rogue states shoot each other, and if they all get
behind the same surveillance screen while the
common enemy is an abstraction called
"Terror" (rather than actual nations), well, that's
a huge transformation.  We might be paranoid a lot of the
time and even lose the occasional city, but
that's a vast geo-strategic advance over the pre-Sept 11
status quo.  It would be World Peace.

Only nobody would call it that.  They'd call
it New War.  All the militarists would all think
they were just as tough-minded as they'd
ever been.  They'd strut and bristle just
like they always had, only there would never
be another Eastern Front.  Never another
Normandy, another Somme.

It would be the Empire of Permanent Emergency.
  
inkwell.vue.134 : Bruce Sterling 2002: The State of the Whirled
permalink #78 of 82: Gail Williams (gail) Sat 12 Jan 02 11:26
    

The Empire of Permanent Emergency.  

Wow. There's rich design opportunity.  Is that a logo, or a Coat of Arms?  
Plus a perma-crisis theme song, half-anthem, half-jingle...   something 
peppy but inspiring, so it can be sung at baseball games and 
other sporting events, musically similar to the Roto-Rooter "away goes 
trouble down the drain" tune.  All kinds of possibilities there.

And then there's the cover art for that massive, dusty unpublished 
treatise,
 
   Just Not Now: Civil Dissent in the Empire of Permanent Emergency.
  
inkwell.vue.134 : Bruce Sterling 2002: The State of the Whirled
permalink #79 of 82: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 12 Jan 02 12:59
    

  Yes, it's been fun, hasn't it?

  I have to leave this discussion now, as it is incumbent
upon me to fly to Washington.  I have to meet some people
there who do not want anyone to know that I have been talking to them.

   Luckily, a magazine that will also go unnamed is paying
me to do this.

   Someday we'll look back on all this and laugh.

   This is also the last day of the Viridian Design Contest
for a new logo for Enron corporation.  Soon I will
have to figure out who wins this contest.  If you have a firm idea
on the subject, send me email.  To bruces@well.com

The contest:
http://www.bomoco.com/Viridian/Enron/Enron.htm

Oh, and here's my new blog.
http://www.infinitematrix.net

And my WELL home page.
http://www.well.com/conf/mirrorshades/

And the Viridian Design site.
http://www.viridiandesign.org

That ought to keep you busy.
Gotta pack now. Don't be a stranger!
  
inkwell.vue.134 : Bruce Sterling 2002: The State of the Whirled
permalink #80 of 82: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 12 Jan 02 16:18
    
Thanks, Bruce! And thanks to all who jammed with us this go-round.  
  
inkwell.vue.134 : Bruce Sterling 2002: The State of the Whirled
permalink #81 of 82: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 12 Jan 02 18:17
    

Thanks, Bruce!
  
inkwell.vue.134 : Bruce Sterling 2002: The State of the Whirled
permalink #82 of 82: exiled in viridianistan (reid) Sun 13 Jan 02 09:14
    

Fun!  Here's my own entry.  Hope I got it in under the wire!
http://www.well.com/user/reid/v2.html
  



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