Where shall we draw the line?

Discussion in 'Politics Discussion' started by Consider This, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. Consider This

    Consider This Member

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    In the wake of the most recent terrorist attack by Islamic extremists, I was put in mind of an old Greek myth.

    Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters noted by Homer in the Odyssey. Scylla was a six-headed monster and Charybdis was a huge whirlpool. Odysseus was forced to navigate his ship near one or the other. He chose Scylla, hoping to lose only some of his crew but not the whole ship.

    In some ways the current international dilemma is similar to this age-old bind. We too must choose between evils, in this case between the loss of life and the loss of liberty.

    The delicate balance between security and freedom is a well-worn issue in history and political science. What is new, however, is the way all elements of the equation have spiraled in intensity over the last twenty years. If I may mix metaphors a bit, the horns of the dilemma have become exquisitely sharp.

    The external threat of suicide bombings has become its own multi-headed monster. Small terrorist cells disbursed widely across the world have redefined the meaning of guerrilla warfare. They may work in coordination, but also on their own. Their bombs can be constructed for pennies. The willingness to commit suicide makes their approach to a target almost unstoppable.

    But it is the internal threat, embodied in the response of Western governments to terrorism, which I want to focus on in this brief essay. Unfortunately this internal threat has also swelled.

    For some time we’ve known that the most effective prevention of terrorist acts flows not from military action, but rather from police action, broadly conceived. The monitoring of computer and cell phone traffic; camera surveillance; explosives detection; DNA identification; encryption of vulnerable information; rapid sharing of data among agencies and governments; steady pressure on terrorist financial resources; detailed background searches; visible officer presence; weapon searches at strategic sites; and so on ad infinitum.

    Police tactics may be our strongest defense, but these tactics themselves are more dangerous to us than they have ever been. And the reason for this involves a confluence of primarily two factors.

    First of course is the strikingly accelerated curve of digital technology, and the corresponding, exponential increase of surveillance capacity. As the dramatic revelations of whistle blowers has highlighted, governments have not allowed this capacity to go unused. The true shock of their digital voyeurism is not so much the illegality. There is no surprise in governments acting illegally if they think they can get away with it. Rather, the shock is in the sheer scope of the technical capacity. This is not your grandfather’s surveillance. Your grandfather never had to worry about being monitored at home by the built-in camera on his lap top.

    Second, the power of this surveillance has been enormously potentiated by the enthusiastic, no the jubilant, participation of citizens themselves in the data gathering.

    This is new. Digital technology offers irresistible temptations. Instant conversation: I’ll just text her. Immediate information: I’ll just look it up. Convenient consumption: I click it, they ship it. And of course the pull of recognition: social media just feels so good. But with every key stroke, we enter personal information that can be, and is, stored and cross-referenced. What we believe. What we buy. What we read. What we have questions about. What’s happening in our lives.

    Sometimes this information will be, how shall I say, of interest. Consider the current essay. Although the ruminations of this social critic are unlikely to sustain the attention of the NSA, word detection algorithms are nonetheless equal opportunity programs. Consider key terms that might ring a little bell. Start with my title: “. . . Suicide Bombers”. There it is, the little bell.

    So what? Well, the important point is that the social forces fueling both Scylla and Charybdis are unlikely to subside in the foreseeable future. Terror will continue, and policing will expand. And expand.

    We may be forced to make a collective decision, at some point, about where we are willing to draw the line. Should we draw it just short of, say, national identification cards? Mandatory provision of DNA samples from all citizens? Extensive drone surveillance of residential neighborhoods?

    Despite their lurid Orwellian tone, these questions are not the most important ones. The most important, and dispiriting, question is: when the time comes will we even have the power to draw a line?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2016
  2. eddiemoneys

    eddiemoneys Well-Known Member

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    Humanity is on a collision course with its actions and the consequences of it which manifest as judgement for it. People are not aware of what they are doing to the extent that they will be held accountable for all of it, and as you've said, each stroke they make of the keyboard and datum they enter for recording becomes useful data to itemize them as global stock for a system that will eventually use that same information to eradicate them or marginalize them if they are to survive it at all.

    The line should have been drawn about 20 or 30 years ago with provisions on who, what, when, where, and how technology should be used. No such line was ever drawn until it was in the favor of the bureaucrats to only punish those who oppose them and not those who do wrong. The false mantra of "Do no harm" is often said by companies like Google who are doing the most harm. As long as you can disguise the evil, people consider it good until it's too late. They give it their private data and all that they needed to keep secret or private. The majority of them don't realize it or know better, and they just hand it over to them.

    Who is to blame? The people who orchestrated all of this should be. They won't be held accountable for any of it, but they should be. The other people who are to blame are the ones who let it happen. The generations of people who have made a lifestyle and subsist on life being easy and convenient instead of honest and hard working. They too, are responsible, and are the only ones who suffer for this. The ones at the top making this happen do not suffer and are not held accountable.

    The line needed to be drawn by people who understood the dangers beforehand, rather than called paranoid or conspiracy theorists when they were visionaries instead trying to serve and protect.
     
  3. Corzhens

    Corzhens Senior Investor

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    I have been saying this since last year of 2015 that world super powers should rethink their stand on the ISIS issue. If they want it annihilated then do it right now and stop the dilly-dallying. US has a military contingent in Syria, also Russia and Turkey. Saudi Arabia has sent 350,000 troops early this year in cooperation with some other Middle East nations. But what's happening is the ISIS continues with its havoc. After the Paris attacks, here comes the Brussels. There are also explosions in Iraq which killed 25 people. So I'd say let's draw the line now.
     
  4. remnant

    remnant Well-Known Member

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    The issue of terrorism is hydra headed. The only way to address the menace posed by terrorism is looking closely at the root causes. As long as real or imagined grievances remain in the Islamic world, the extremists and hardliners will always win. The Israelis elected a hardliner in the belief that he is best suited to provide security. The Palestinians in Gaza reciprocated in kind. So have the Egyptians. The Arab street responds by swelling the numbers in ISIS and other similar groups. See? The world is moving into a dangerous phase.
     
  5. petesede

    petesede Guest

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    Yep, as the above poster said.. the problem is that the USA has a really short and simple-minded belief that we can kill terrorists. You cannot bomb terrorists into extinction.. they are EXACTLY like a hydra... you kill one terrorist, and you turn 5 of their family and friends into terrorists. You kill a terrorist, and you make his wife and son suicide bombers.

    And it gets even worse when we start talking like Ted Cruz. When you isolate and target muslim communities within the USA, the only thing you do is make them less american. This is the major problem Europe has now. The muslims in those countries barely feel like members of their country. In the USA, we do not have that. Most muslims here actually think of themselves as Americans first. We DO have muslims reporting radicalized people. If you want to do what Cruz is suggestion, what you will end up with is ´no-go´ zones in the USA where you will have thousands of muslims who feel like second class citizens and whom will not help law enforcement.

    Your argument is false. You are saying ´should we give up liberties in order to fight terrorism´.. when the fact is that if we do what you say, we will give up liberties and increase the chance of terrorism.

    We should do more of what Bernie said and make the police forces for a community look more like the community the serve, which would lead to more ´americans´ reporting the bad guys.
     
  6. djordjem87

    djordjem87 Well-Known Member

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    If big powers like U.S wanted to stop them they would. It looks like somebody is quite okay with this trend. I am not saying anything but just observing. As someone said it here, it is obvious delaying and all these troops and ready soldiers are fighting some other wars I guess. Right now it seems like the only war, a uniting war should be this one against the terrorism and I have to be free to say that I believe that ISIS is not what we think it is or what world in general believe it is.
     
  7. Rainman

    Rainman Senior Investor

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    There's little that can be done now to fight terrorism because the internet has made it a lot easier for extremists to spread propaganda. It's easy for people to blend in and pretend to be what they aren't. They could communicate openly on social media and the security agencies wouldn't even know that something is being planned. The best way to fight terrorism IMHO is by fighting Islamophobia first.
     
  8. xTinx

    xTinx Active Member

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    I understand where you are coming from and the point you are trying to raise. If you have conscience - or are someone who regularly taps it for decision-making purposes - then of course you will know how to draw the line. If you lack the skill to invade people's online privacy, the line was already there from the very beginning.

    But even if I say these things, we cannot escape the fact that we live in a world where values are either corrupted or too convoluted to be categorized clearly as black or white. Much of human existence sits on a grey area. If you cannot decide on where to draw the line, then be utilitarian about it: "the greatest good to the greatest number of people."
     
  9. petesede

    petesede Guest

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    One of the things that is coming out from Paris and Brussels is that these are NOT religious fanatics. The guys who did Brussels knew nothing about Islam, before they went to Syria they actually ( no kidding) ordered Islam for Dummies and the Quran for Dummies from Amazon. They were petty thieves who were isolated from their society, stuck in areas with 50% unemployment and no options. They drank alcohol and partied and had no relationships with their local mosques. Nothing about the religious aspect of ISIS drew them in, it was more just about being a part of something big, someone who is fighting against the very institutions and gov´ts that are causing their situation to be so bad.

    Anyone see a similarities.. take poor, hopeless young men and make them feel like they are a part of something important and powerful.
     

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