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<nettime> twice-told tactical tales [recktenwald, lotu5, holmes, lebkows
nettime's_eternal_return on Tue, 9 Aug 2005 07:46:58 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> twice-told tactical tales [recktenwald, lotu5, holmes, lebkowsky]

Re: <nettime> Yep, that's "tactical media," all right
     Heiko Recktenwald <uzs106 {AT} uni-bonn.de>
     lotu5 <lotu5 {AT} resist.ca>
     "brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr" <brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr>
     Jon Lebkowsky <jon.lebkowsky {AT} gmail.com>

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Date: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 17:35:33 +0200
From: Heiko Recktenwald <uzs106 {AT} uni-bonn.de>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Yep, that's "tactical media," all right

Nice (?) piece of literatur, but I dont believe it has to be taken to
serious.  Chemical weapons etc.

The internet is the place of "tactical media" in many ways and one
tactic in this "clash of civilisations", that is a fake anyway, is to
spread false rumors, to try to destroy the identity of the warriors or
whatever they are, whatever is happening.

A google search on  "Global Islamic Media Front" showed nothing but
links to "counterpropaganda" sites, there is a campaign, one of them
with such nonsense like:

"But when a man emerges from a house that is under surveillance for
terror-related reasons, is wearing unusual clothing, refuses to stop for
police and rushes onto a Tube train, it is hard to argue that police on
the scene have many choices. The ultimate blame belongs to the
terrorists who have made London a city under siege."


I dont think this is "all right"..

Best, H.

Bruce Sterling wrote:

>*Right outta the good old Hakim Bey TAZ handbook.

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Date: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 11:44:41 -0700
From: lotu5 <lotu5 {AT} resist.ca>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Yep, that's "tactical media," all right

Bruce Sterling wrote:
> *Right outta the good old Hakim Bey TAZ handbook.  bruces
> http://blog.wired.com/sterling/
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/05/
> AR2005080501138_pf.html
> Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations
> Al Qaeda suicide bombers and ambush units in Iraq routinely depend on
> the Web for training and tactical support, relying on the Internet's

This whole article, with its references to "the Internet's anonymity and
flexibility", "near impunity in cyberspace" and "Hampered by the nature
of the Internet itself" sounds like a scary precursor to the building of
a case by the U.S. government for the Countering Online Networking and
Terrorism, Rooting Out Larceny  ACT the CONTROL act. heh.

but seriously, this is some serious thinking in the direction of why to
start monitoring and controlling the net more and criminalizing
anonymity and privacy.


encrypted mail preferred // gpg key id 0x250E12BF

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From: "brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr" <brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr>
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 19:22:56 -0400
Subject: RE: <nettime> Yep, that's tactical media, all right

> Yep, that's "tactical media," all right - writes Bruce Sterling (see NYT
article on web-based terrorism, below)

Indeed it is. There is of course a relation between Islamic terrorism and
even the best-intentioned critique of the WTO, etc., as that critique was
practiced by members of the Western middle-classes in the late 90s and up
till 9/11. Now the question is, what will such tactics ultimately lead to

What's interesting in the use of the Internet by jihadis is all that it
says about the untenable position of the US in the world today. To my
eyes, the Internet (like the GPS system) is an Imperial infrastructure.
These are world-spanning public services, necessary for the American
conduct of business and military affairs on a planetary scale, but
offered freely to everyone else, with all the accruing advantages, as a
way of integrating people to the American governance of the earth.
Indeed, in the case of the Internet, the utility of the infrastructure
partly depends on its adoption by large numbers of people around the
planet; and therefore the infrastructure has a "constituent" aspect, it
is literally made by the users, and therefore, continually remade in
their image, even as it integrates them and also shapes their conduct.

Curiously from our perspective today, the Bretton Woods institutions,
including the IMF, had such constituent aspects. They promised to
regulate world finance, to help ward off the dangers of laissez-faire
liberalism that were seen by many as the causes of the World Wars.
They went hand in hand with the Marshall Plan aid packages that
rebuilt the world system (particularly Germany and Japan) in the image
of the USA. Right now I'm reading Arrighi and Silver's great book on
"Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System," quite interesting
stuff. Among the points they make is that the Bretton Woods
institutions, including the GATT rounds (ancestor to the WTO), were
cut from the same cloth as the New Deal. In other words, the framers
of these institutions conceived intervention by the national state as
essential for providing security and stability to the citizens.So
they allowed for national sovereignty to operate to that end, for
instancein the field of monetary policy. It was affirmed that
sovereign nations could, and indeed should, use adjustments of the value
of their currency to protect their citizens against fluctuations of
the world market. This type of thinking was part of a very coherent
pattern. The US, after WWII, made extraordinary efforts to promise,
and to a certain extent, offer access tothe kind of wealth that it had
generated within its borders (even if thosepromises were accompanied
by the extreme repression of communism, both inside and outside its
borders). Of course that nation-building side of American geopolitical
presence went out the window and in the late 20th century, as the world
was opened up entirely to crossborder trade and investment, in the
predatory neoliberal manner that we know so well now.Why this
complete turnabout?

What emerges from some consideration of the problem is the way the
different regions of the world, and especially Europe and East Asia,
were gradually able to transform the initial American restructuring of
their economies, so as to become competitors, first on the industrial
level, then ultimately on the commercial and financial levels. Faced
with an imminent decline from the mid-seventies on, the US had to
intensify its efforts to remain the pivot of a world system that was
developing autonomous regionalpoles. It did this by playing a
complex and risky game in the 80s, whereit tried to use its
unparalleled military-industrial complex (in the form of Reagan's Star
Wars program) as a way to refuel national growth, crush its erstwhile
opponent (the USSR), and in the process, rebuild the prestige necessary
to attract the very capital needed to pay for such military-industrial
programs. The ultimate end was to reassert leadership over a world
that was sliping away from American control. But the means to this
end was the return of 19th century laissez-faire, in the new guise of
corporate globalization. It was this risky game that transformed the
US into the military/financial power that it is today.

As Arrighi and Silver point out, "protection" is one of the things that
a hegemonic power can offer, to make up for other exactions (in this
case, the siphoning-off of world finance). But this role as global cop
was a fairly bad strategy for the USA, compared to the enormous prestige
it had earlier gathered with its (albeit interested) generosity towards
the so-called "free world" in the postwar period. At a certain point,
the "protection" comes to seem more dangerous than the threats it is
supposed to protect against... And this is precisely the problem
facing the Bush team, in their clumsy and hyperviolent attempt, after
the New Economy krach, to reuse the military strategy that had been
first deployed under Reagan.

Amidst this picture of violent decline, the Internet appears as one of
thelast flashes of American generosity towards the world, capable
initially of provoking a certain enthusiasm. As it turns out,
however, the offer of ashare in constituent power doesn't work
(doesn't integrate) when you are offering it to serious, long-term
enemies (people who were never cut into the post WWII deal). The open
world system, conceived under Clinton as anew form of American "soft
power," turns out to be a very dangerous thing when US leaders start
playing hardball again. Now the Americans are locked into an
open-border, laissez-faire regulation of the world system which is
untenable given the lack of prestige and credit (in the literal sense)
they presently are suffering. And so terrorism appears as the
fundamental contradiction facing a power that only opened the world's
borders in orderto plunder the territories they formerly

How is that all going to play out? Will the fundamentalists be the
only ones to exploit the "tactical" advantages offered by the deep
contradictions within American imperialism? Will the pretence of a
clashof civilizations act as a horrendous but successful cover for the
American governing class's incapacity to strike a new balance between
generosity and greed?

I'm not convinced that will be the case. But as the crisis deepens and
the world civil war gets worse, the actions and gestures of the global
civil society, or the "global meshwork" or whatever you want to call it,
will provide the answer.

all the best, Brian


mail2web - Check your email from the web at
http://mail2web.com/ .

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Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 19:38:03 -0500
From: Jon Lebkowsky <jon.lebkowsky {AT} gmail.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Yep, that's "tactical media," all right

I blogged that one, as well, and got a pointer to a Secrecy News post
at http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2005/08/080805.html#1, quoted

"Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations," a Washington Post
headline declared in a front-page, above-the-fold story on August 7.

"Among other things, al Qaeda and its offshoots are building a massive
and dynamic online library of training materials," the Post reported,
and offered sample documents from this library on its own web site.

But contrary to the Post story line, the cited library materials
suggest a startling lack of technical competence. Unfortunately, the
Post did not critically examine the materials that it presented.

The Post story's uncertain grasp of the underlying science was
signalled early on when it twice mistakenly referred to a virus as the
cause of pneumonic plague. Pneumonic plague is caused by a bacterium,
Yersinia pestis, not by a virus.

A page excerpted by the Post online from "The Mujahideen Poisons
Handbook" purported to explain how to manufacture "betaluminium

But there is no such thing as betaluminium poison. (The word appears
to be a corruption of "botulinum"). Nor would the proffered production
method -- combining fresh horse manure, meat, grain and water in a
sealed jar -- yield much more than a stinky mess.

"The first time I saw [the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook]," said chemist
George Smith of GlobalSecurity.org, "I thought it must be a hoax."

"Careful examination of the document shows that it is crammed with
errors, seemingly the work of someone with little discernible sense,
profoundly ignorant of the nature of simple compounds and incompetent
in even minor [laboratory] procedures," Dr. Smith wrote in National
Security Notes in March 2004:


In short, the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook that was excerpted on the
Washington Post web site indicates something nearly the opposite of
what the Post article on terrorist use of the internet claimed to

"The 'Poisons Handbook' is an example of someone professing to know
what he is doing on poisons who profoundly and obviously does not know
what he is doing," Dr. Smith said.

If the Poisons Handbook is indeed representative of the "massive and
dynamic online library of training materials" offered by jihadists,
then that is good news for public safety and security.

The Washington Post, the best of newspapers, is far from alone in
succumbing to, and propagating, exaggerated threat assessments. There
seems to be a powerful temptation to believe that terrorists are
everywhere and, aided by "the internet," capable of everything. It is
a temptation that needs to be confronted and thought through.

~ Jon L.

On 8/6/05, Bruce Sterling <bruces {AT} well.com> wrote:
> *Right outta the good old Hakim Bey TAZ handbook.
> bruces
> http://blog.wired.com/sterling/
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/05/
> AR2005080501138_pf.html
> washingtonpost.com
> Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations

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