The War that Produces Itself
"`Media are the weapons of journalism' (Peter Arnett). Information fallout reaches the last corner of the earth through the conversion of calculators into communication machines. Static or interference becomes `planetary'... Instead of `quarrels and noise', war dominates all channels." This article is translated from the German.
The War that Produces Itself
By Rudolf Maresch
[This October 1998 article is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.microflash.de/rmaresch/texte/text21.html.]
"From Plato to NATO, the history of the war commando consists in the endless striving for certainty." (Martin van Crewald)
The entropy grows
There was a time when we had to accustom ourselves to interference or static and its constant growth. "Noise and quarrels on all channels", as Bernhard Siegert once described.the malaise. Since then, the demand for knowledge managers has resounded. From the ocean of events, notes and documents pouring through the data network, so-called "trail blazers" (V. Bush) should choose the relevant data for societies and their discourse and make them understandable to the public in short mesmerizing sentences. Many traditional mediators feel more strained with this dubious and honorable task of channel purification than with the compression of data and its translation. How can he or she distinguish information from interference or static? How can the media fallout be rationed? How can the rumor be separated from the facts, the fake from truth, the insignificant from values worthy of communication?...
The secret service and the military have great interest in "overviews" with unambiguous structures and clearly contoured knowledge. In view of the rampant flood of information caused by the increased private and individualized data contact, some fear the loss of control and information sovereignty like the devil fears holy water.
The enemy is listening
These shadow powers know about the high information value of static. Its increase suggests that a third enters the data transfer. A signal can be captured, changed and/or rewritten. Increased static or interference can mean two things: zero information and the greatest complexity of information. In this paradoxical situation, what is central is protection before or resistance to undesired information attack by the other and possession of the right code to click or hack through the data salad. Information security and the vulnerability of data networks are the two sides of the Infowar.
Since the military are joined with the civil networks and the news is hunted by the same pipeline, this third could be anyone with a net connection and a PC and lurks everywhere in the interior of the system. The fear and worry of the military before net attacks by unidentified subjects is justified. In America, fantasies of Star Wars in "God's own country" are no longer a "sanctuary" (F. Kittler). The bomb attacks in Okalahoma or on the World Trade Center prove this. America was the first to introduce the tactical-strategic change from hierarchies to networks and expand the hierarchical (2 structure - command and control) with topological and interwoven perspectives. Whoever successfully combines strict top-down commando-structures with network principles, decentralization with the overview, will be ahead in the Infowar.
"Media are the weapons of journalism" (Peter Arnett)
Information fallout reaches the last corner of the earth through the conversion of calculators into communication machines. Static or interference is "planetary" (C. Schmitt). Interweaving and digitilization transform the world and give another direction to the world race. Every private household can now become informed about current events in real time. The World Wide Web enables the media consumer to have the same news sources as any other journalist in this world. The Kenneth Starr report was the most recent example... In a few years when these kinds of events become the norm and rule, we will understand what effects all this has on the public, on institutions of society and on democracy generally.
War on all channels
In the meantime, war has come out of static. Instead of "quarrels and noise", war dominates all channels. War on the Gulf is regarded among us as the Fall of Man. As everybody knows, the Alliance attacked before it began war negotiations and bombed the communication- and transportation centers, radar screen and radio stations of the Iraqis. In passing, the public noticed the military origin of communication technologies. Live and at prime time the general public was the witness of an increasing militarization of the communication apparatus. Real-time communication enabled citizens and governments to look at the same manipulated pictures and reports that CNN broadcast to the world. God received a brand name; he was American.
With the ending of the war, these insights soon disappeared from the consciousness of people and the mass media. The communication war was simply forgotten. Jean Baudrillard's statement that the Gulf war did not occur was true. Even though Serbs, Bosnians and Croates years later fought with similar deceitful techniques (disinformation, psychological warfare, accusation of massacres on the civilian population) to a) weaken the enemy mentally and b) to draw the western media to its side, the Infowar was still anathema in Germany. Then the community of states was provoked to intervene when the western media abounding in bloody pictures took sides with the war party.
With the Lewinsky affair, the Infowar reached a new climax and finally the free channels. What occurred publically between lawyers and opponents of the American president was a credit to the term Infowar... Information is no longer a means for attracting the attention of the public. Rather information has become the deployment of a war to destroy the adversary. The favor of the American public is sought. All means for conquering that public are just...
In the cabinet of curiosities
If the net discussion was disappointing because the participants blocked one another with animosities and debates over values, the symposium compensated for this babble...
The only superpower since the ending of the Cold War and the release of the data network to the public fears attacks on its material infrastructure. Embassies and citizens abroad, centers of the economy and information (banks, insurances, transportation systems) have become lucrative targets for attacks of hostile powers. From a political-economic perspective, a virus could wreak more havoc than any bomber attack. Net activists do not like being thrown in a pot with terrorists like the Arab bin Laden. Hackers, code breakers or disturbers of electronic structures always have "good intentions". One fights for the free flow of information, uncovers hidden information and champions the reproduction of software or one attacks the websites of wicked multinationals, disassembles the homepages of presidents and calls users to write chain letters or to virtual sit-ins... The intention for such actions is lacking today despite the vulnerability of the nets and the possibility of net attacks.
Hidden and open Infowar
What is central is the question how "weapon informatics" changes relations of states and people. According to media historian Friedrich Kittler, organizations, states or empires in all ages have sought opinion sovereignty over the knowledge- and mentality systems of the enemy with disinformation, espionage and other deception manoevers. War games, information procurement, spying, simulation and social communication occur on one surface. Through the Internet, the American empire is bound with the rest of the world causing its vulnerability for attacks. The chance of scratching America's economic, cultural and informational superiority increases through the skillful use of the resource "information". Power systems coinciding nowadays with operating systems are susceptible on the plane of code...
After the shattering of the state telecommunication monopoly, the take-over of nation states was imminent. The pioneer Gates had to make himself a child before the regulatory authorities so they would fear his empire. The legal possibilities of the state should not be ignored. Digital technology in no way represents the end of history. The excitement around molecular- and quantum-computers shows that nature is by no means a calculable machine that can be digitally simulated. Here could lie the future, the chance of history and the challenge for new powers to top the American power with a machine superior to the bivalent.
The military theoretician George Stein emphasized the new strategic thinking of the American military and offered insights in its perception and thought. The military regard occupation of the electromagnetic spectrum as just as important as control of the territory and equate "information superiority" with "air superiority". Command and Control warfare (2CW) is supplemented by Information Operative Warfare. Infowar is today an integrated concept combining hard- and soft-war and envisioning the destruction of the adversary's information- and communication systems. Stein described the ability to win a war before it begins as the "holy grail" of the military. From the beginning, the enemy would be prevented from all hostility. All direct and indirect measures of the Infowar are aimed at fomenting this consciousness among the adversary. Stein counted all the manipulations that must be observed by the adversary to be effective as indirect operations: a fake radio message or the trick or feat on the battlefield. Under direct Infowar, he understood the ability to change information without the enemy seeing this manipulation. Computer viruses that impaired the targeting of cannons structure the perception and mentality of citizens of other nations.
Hollywood, McWorld and pop culture may be counted as the best and most successful export hits in the Infowar because they touch the observation components and orientation phases from which the responsible decide and act. The direct Infowar mainly aims at the mediators, the broadcasters of news (mass media). Nevertheless Stein did not want to rob the alarmed hearers of every hope. Much of what presently flits across the channels is speculation since one lacks access to the inner circles of the military. Nowhere else in the world is belief in the effectiveness of worldviews or manipulation as widespread as in the new world. On the other hand, there is no unanimous or final opinion even among the military about the Infowar. Everyone is not convinced of the significance and importance of Information Warfare. Some armed forces still put more money in old branches and order new tanks and aircraft. Lethargy, listlessness, inertia and force of gravity paralyze all will of innovation here as elsewhere in society.
Georg Schofbanker, Austrian military historian from Vienna, warned the other day of an Infowar hype. Since the fall of the wall and the end of the communist regime in the East, new stylish theories regularly plunge contemporary discourse into depression or nervousness. As the New World Order policy of the Bush administration was accompanied years ago by the Wnd-of-history-debate, the clash of civilizations is now flanked by cyber-, net- and Infowar scenarios. Schofbanker raised the question whether a self-fulfilling prophecy disseminated by the Americans does not mentally stabilize America's present technical and cultural hegemony. He excluded bloody wars between democratic states for resources or territories in the near future. Rather tribal feuds and distribution wars could be on the agenda. The future question will be who assumes the role of world police as the peacekeeper and quells enemies and aggressors with or without mandate of the UN. In the latest doctrines of the Joint Chief of Staff (Joint Pub 3-13; Joint Vision 2010), all possible future conflict levels and scenarios (Info-terrorism, psychological warfare, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (up to nuclear war are listed meticulously, with escalation stages and corresponding crisis reactions.
Hollywood films like Armageddon or the last Bond film "Tomorrows Never Die" showed that Infowar scenarios have already reached the entertainment industry. Birgit Richard confirmed this trend in an opposite perspective. The military uses the free market as with the video game "Creatures". They buy commercial software so that bomber pilots or other military personnel can simulatively practice war and prepare for combat situations.
Give Infopeace a chance!
Schofbanker wanted to give Infopeace a chance. His plea for open media, unhindered access and protection of the human right to information and electronic privacy were not new. Ute Bernhardt from "Forum Information Scientists for Peace and Social Responsibility" recommends civilizing and democratizing of information against the increasing militarization of thought. The foundation of this civil culture must be the expansion of crypto-graphic procedures bringing more information security for everyone. However the military successfully prevented this for a long time and repressed the danger of a panoptization of society. Whoever stands up for more information security focuses on the form, not "overviews" or the total alternatives power or powerlessness, control or non-control. Surprisingly metaphors like global citizenship, world public, world court etc) on which advocates of the "Second Modern Age" set all their hope to tame the Infowar of the free market play no role among the spokespersons. At least the media artist Ingo Gunther stressed diplomacy as a peaceful variant of the Infowar. He called the mass media, particularly CNN, to direct their cameras at the ambassadors and their negotiating skill instead of only bringing flying cruise missiles, victims and blood orgies in the evening news. The call of Shen Weiguang for forums and communities to preserve world peace recalls the hollow gestures and rhetoric of the communist past...
The Infowar has already occurred
The observer could not garner much optimism in the new media from recent conferences. The pictures of horror were widely disseminated. They extended from the Infobomb that has seized the economy, politics and knowledge systems, the war over acceleration, the disappearing of public space through time and the surveillance of citizens by electronic armbands or cell phones to the cyberneticization of social relations and the insight that the person has genetically reached the end of the flagpole. The euphoria break was vigoriously applied. The intention of Gorfried Stockers was to hold media artists and media activists up to a mirror, to make them aware that the objects with which they work day after day are altogether waste products of an escalation in weapons technology.
A clear boundary between civil and military areas can no longer be drawn with the interweaving and digitalization of data transfer. Infowar is diffuse and unclear; differences are leveled. What is true for the private and the political in media democracies is also true here. A mixture and amalgamation between the civil and the military occurs. Every user becomes a possible attack- and target object of the Infowar as soon as he joins the global data network. Only North Koreans or Madagaskar's inhabitants are spared. Where there is no net-connection or screen in the house, there is also no cyber-, net- and infowar. Other media assume the social and mental bond to the regime. This is all very well known. Media like traffic systems, river flows, regions, circuit lines and long distance transmissions serve the needs, interests and goals of the military first of all. According to Harold Adams Innis, an empire only exists as it has dominance over space and time with the help of different media. Among the Romans, messengers and cohorts used the same routes. Is there nothing new under the sun?
All over-dramatization should be averted. The imaginary produces remarkable head-births with the equation communication systems = information weapons. In a 1991 book, Martin van Creveld focused attention on social change and "the future of war" while post-history and post-modern were disputed in Germany. Arquilla/Ronfeldt carries this to the Infosphere and binds it in a total threat scenario where the military and former adversaries are thrown into bright excitement. Infowar takes place in heads, not mainly on the battlefield or on the net. When it once reaches the consciousness of people, Infowar acts like a worldview or manipulation. A strange dynamic arises: a war that produces itself is copied and replicated via brains and machines. War as a form of intergovernmental conflict diffuses in everyday life. The "state of emergency" becomes the normal state transposing the society into permanent mobilization. An enemy appears out of the stranger (host). Early warning systems must be installed against him in the territorial borders and in the virtual nets. Paranoia breaks out with the fairy-tale about the "Big Brother" who hears, sees and stores everything. All this is promoted by the globality and perviousness of the net. Paranoids and conspirators whimper there scattering rumors and presuming deceit, manipulation and conspiracy behind everything. Whoever still trusts his eyes has a hard time.
What can the observer believe? Some turn off, disconnect, forget about everything for a while or return to the old media, avoid the cell phone or use proven means like dead mailboxes. While one stashes away coding technizues, others rely on addresses. Credibility that excludes every fake replaces reality. The cybernetics of the second order offers not a panacea but a possible form of protecting oneself from rampant paranoia, observing the observer instead of screens or machines. In this way, distance is created between oneself and the stimulating texts, pictures and games necessary in order not to succumb to the auto-suggestive power of the Infowar rhetoric.
Two observations deserve reflection. In earlier times, people met in lunch hours or at least on beautiful days for pleasant chats. These times are obviously past. Young net workers and Infowarriors have no time for that. Despite glorious weather and warm temperatures, they perch behind their machines and probe the Bottom Up Information Warfare. Days before when the rain poured in buckets, a nomad of real life sought a dry warm place before nightfall. No one took note of this special form of Infowar in the cities.
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