As recent events demonstrate, the manifestations of Islamist extremism in Europe are manifold. They range from youngsters who reject both government and academic attempts at multiculturalism to radical imams who influence their congregations against their host countries to fundamentalist converts who believe the West is on a crusade to destroy Islam. Chat rooms on the Internet are used with powerful effect to proselytize, recruit, radicalize, fund raise, train, and plot acts of terrorism. In part to counter violent Islamist extremism, the U.S. National Intelligence Strategy seeks to: (1) develop innovative ways to penetrate and analyze the most difficult targets ; and (2) strengthen analytic expertise, methods, and practices; tap expertise wherever it resides; and explore alternative analytic views. Consequently, the director of national intelligence has given top priority to enhancing outreach to the myriad sources of expertise and open source information that can play a decisive role in countering threats such as terrorism. Over the past year, the CSIS Transnational Threats Project operated and tested a global Trusted Information Network (TIN) devoted to critical threat issues demonstrating that structured interaction with nongovernmental experts on the periphery can provide innovative, alternative analysis and perspectives. Islamist extremism in Europe was explored by the TIN s internationally recognized experts, even as daily events in Europe illustrated that al Qaeda inspired terrorists continue to proliferate among Muslim communities there. TIN members, in a collaborative online setting, contributed fresh information and perceptions about the extremists route to violence and their aspirations. This report reviews the workings of the CSIS network and demonstrates the contribution such a TIN can make as a force multiplier for intelligence in the information age.
How do the weak defeat the strong? Ivan Arreguín-Toft argues that, although many factors affect asymmetric conflict outcomes (for example, the relative power of the actors, their weapons technology, and outside support), the interaction of each actor’s strategy is the best explanation. Supporting his argument with combined statistical and comparative case study analysis, Arreguín-Toft’s strategic interaction theory has implications not only for international relations theorists, but for policy makers grappling with interstate and civil wars, as well as terrorism.
In this age of an open Internet, it is easy to forget that every American information industry, beginning with the telephone, has eventually been taken captive by some ruthless monopoly or cartel. With all our media now traveling a single network, an unprecedented potential is building for centralized control over what Americans see and hear. Could history repeat itself with the next industrial consolidation? Could the Internet—the entire flow of American information—come to be ruled by one corporate leviathan in possession of “the master switch”? That is the big question of Tim Wu’s pathbreaking book.
As Wu’s sweeping history shows, each of the new media of the twentieth century—radio, telephone, television, and film—was born free and open. Each invited unrestricted use and enterprising experiment until some would-be mogul battled his way to total domination. Here are stories of an uncommon will to power, the power over information: Adolph Zukor, who took a technology once used as commonly as YouTube is today and made it the exclusive prerogative of a kingdom called Hollywood . . . NBC’s founder, David Sarnoff, who, to save his broadcast empire from disruptive visionaries, bullied one inventor (of electronic television) into alcoholic despair and another (this one of FM radio, and his boyhood friend) into suicide . . . And foremost, Theodore Vail, founder of the Bell System, the greatest information empire of all time, and a capitalist whose faith in Soviet-style central planning set the course of every information industry thereafter.
Explaining how invention begets industry and industry begets empire—a progress often blessed by government, typically with stifling consequences for free expression and technical innovation alike—Wu identifies a time-honored pattern in the maneuvers of today’s great information powers: Apple, Google, and an eerily resurgent AT&T. A battle royal looms for the Internet’s future, and with almost every aspect of our lives now dependent on that network, this is one war we dare not tune out.
Part industrial exposé, part meditation on what freedom requires in the information age, The Master Switch is a stirring illumination of a drama that has played out over decades in the shadows of our national life and now culminates with terrifying implications for our future.
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly. “Asymmetric warfare” can describe a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the “weaker” combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality. Such strategies may not necessarily be militarized. This is in contrast to symmetric warfare, where two powers have similar military power and resources and rely on tactics that are similar overall, differing only in details and execution.
SPECIAL 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION —
THE MOST IMPORTANT AND INFLUENTIAL SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL OF THE PAST TWO DECADES
Twenty years ago, it was as if someone turned on a light. The future blazed into existence with each deliberate word that William Gibson laid down. The winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer didn’t just explode onto the science fiction scene–it permeated into the collective consciousness, culture, science, and technology.
Today, there is only one science fiction masterpiece to thank for the term “cyberpunk,” for easing the way into the information age and Internet society. Neuromancer‘s virtual reality has become real. And yet, William Gibson’s gritty, sophisticated vision still manages to inspire the minds that lead mankind ever further into the future.