High-tech Warfare

Planing for their future war on poverty and radicalism (according to a recent Navy Review paper,to be fought mainly in ‘feral cities’ – i.e. chaotic slum-dominated urban areas gone long beyond control), the Pentagon pursues its (slightly pre-adolescent) reliance on high tech solutions. Fly-sized micro surveillance vehicles, ‘smart’ grenades that turn on corners and soldiers who climb vertical walls like Spiderman, as Asia Times imagines the scenario
“As tiny flying UAVs blanket an impoverished neighborhood, a squad of special-ops Spidermen and geko warriors will crawl and slither up apartment-building walls, while teams of robots are simultaneously hopping through first-floor windows and terminator-human teams are kicking down front doors to capture an enemy drug kingpin. Nearby “angry crowds” of politically-minded youth will be engaged by heavily-armed teleoperated SWORDS Talon robots, while a few up-armored cyborg troops, at a safe distance, fire their loitering smart grenades at a gathering crowd of armed slum-dwellers who believe themselves well hidden and protected in nearby alleyways. ”

The scary thing is not only the Pentagon’s apparent inability to learn anything form the Iraqi war (where gadgetry and advanced hard-ware apparently do not work) is their idea of a future as a perpetual and globally extended Baghdad. The US must prepare to fight unidentified ‘ terrorists’ for a long time, and not only in Iraq, but also in Mogdishu, Caracas and (why not) downtown LA. Furthermore the terrorist is so loosely defined as to encompass virtually anybody who doesn’t subscribe wholeheartedly to the prescribed consumerist and politically passive lifestyle. The Pentagon mentions drug smugglers, organized criminals, but also politically active ‘angry crowds’ and computer hackers. These are subject no only to brute force, but also to brute ‘statistics’, as future surveillance will rely mainly on data-mining and pattern recognition tools that do not take people’s intentions or even individual actions into account.

“For example, the navy/marines recently launched a program seeking to develop algorithms to predict the criminality of a given building or neighborhood. The project, titled “Finding Repetitive Crime Supporting Structures”, defines cities as nothing more than a collection of “urban clutter [that] affords considerable concealment for the actors that we must capture”. The “hostile behavior bad actors”, as the program terms them, are defined not just as “terrorists”, today’s favorite catch-all bogiemen, but as a panoply of nightmare archetypes: “insurgents, serial killers, drug dealers, etc”

So forget about habeas corpus, it’s enough that you fit into the right (or wrong!) purchasing or internet surfing pattern, or even live in the wrong neighborhood, for you to be micro-waved by a high-tech non-lethal weapon.

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