Zócalo Public Squarewar – Zócalo Public Square http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart Sat, 20 Jan 2018 18:03:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 When the Great War Reached Wisconsin, Free Speech Was the First Casualtyhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/18/great-war-reached-wisconsin-free-speech-first-casualty/ideas/essay/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/18/great-war-reached-wisconsin-free-speech-first-casualty/ideas/essay/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:01:53 +0000 By Richard L. Pifer http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=90539 Woodrow Wilson did not want to go to war. On two different occasions during the weeks leading to the 1917 declaration of war that brought the United States into World War I, the president expressed reservations regarding the course he was contemplating.

Because war is autocratic, he feared that free speech and other rights would be endangered. The President told Frank Cobb of the New York World: “Once lead this people into war, and they’ll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. To fight you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter the very fiber of our national life, infecting congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street. . . . If there is any alternative, for God’s sake let’s take it!”

Wilson’s predictions became self-fulfilling prophecies. Once the United States joined the fight against the

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Woodrow Wilson did not want to go to war. On two different occasions during the weeks leading to the 1917 declaration of war that brought the United States into World War I, the president expressed reservations regarding the course he was contemplating.

Because war is autocratic, he feared that free speech and other rights would be endangered. The President told Frank Cobb of the New York World: “Once lead this people into war, and they’ll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. To fight you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter the very fiber of our national life, infecting congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street. . . . If there is any alternative, for God’s sake let’s take it!”

Wilson’s predictions became self-fulfilling prophecies. Once the United States joined the fight against the Kaiser, Congress and Wilson’s own administration implemented legislation and surveillance programs designed to keep America safe by ferreting out subversive activity and crushing dissent—especially in states like Wisconsin, which I have studied for many years. These steps curtailed meaningful debate about how best to fight the war at home and abroad. Tolerance did indeed go out the window.

Public discourse very quickly defined a new, clear dichotomy between the righteous people of the United States and the bestial German Hun, between us and “them.” As Congress assembled for Wilson’s war message, Texas Representative Joe Eagle told the Wisconsin State Journal: “The Kaiser is a cave man with murder in his heart . . . . He is bent on the unwavering course of brute force and pillage.” The language of peace, neutrality, and forbearance had almost immediately given way to the language of war: bellicose, dehumanizing, and designed to create a noble enterprise worthy of the sacrifice of thousands of lives. Through posters, pamphlets, and movies, the nation’s propaganda office, the Committee on Public Information, spread the message of the righteous war against the evil Hun.

Official and vigilante actions, as well as social pressure, made debate and dissent difficult—particularly in Wisconsin, where during World War I at least 38 percent of the state’s population had Germanic heritage (and thus was immediately suspect.) In Ashland, Wisconsin, the Loyal Knights of Liberty tarred and feathered at least four men they deemed disloyal. Letters sent to other individuals in the community made clear the importance of behaving as loyal Americans. In northeastern Wisconsin a bartender was heralded as a patriot for assaulting a patron who spoke ill of the army. The victim of this assault was referred to federal authorities.

Throughout the state, individuals who criticized the government or refused to buy war bonds could wake up to find their home painted yellow, or a sign posted labeling them as “slackers.” Hundreds of these and similar actions, which were reported faithfully in the local newspapers and to the federal Bureau of Investigation (precursor to the FBI,) made clear that comments critical of the war should be kept to oneself. To help find traitors, the Bureau of Investigation started the American Protective League, an organization of volunteers who spied and informed on their neighbors.

The Espionage Act of 1917 provided an ideal tool with which to attack disloyal speech. During the war, 90 people in Wisconsin were indicted for 183 violations of the Espionage Act. The most common infractions were praising Germany; criticizing the United States; calling the conflict a “rich man’s war”; criticizing Liberty Bonds, the Allies, charities, or food laws; obstructing military recruiting; insulting the flag or uniform; or praising a ship’s sinking.

Wisconsin U.S. Senator Robert M. LaFollette became a special target. He fought for rational wartime policies in keeping with his progressive vision for America. Throughout the war, he regularly voted for measures necessary to support the troops, but opposed conscription and financing the war on the backs of average Americans. Instead of deficit spending supported by selling war bonds, he favored taxing the corporations and the individuals who were getting rich on war production. The war made him an outcast among his Senate colleagues and the symbol of traitorous behavior on the home front.

In September 1917, the Associated Press misquoted LaFollette as saying that the United States “had no grievances” against Germany. Despite clear proof that he was misquoted, his Senate colleagues dragged LaFollette through 15 months of hearings under threat of expulsion. Only after the war ended did the Senators finally acknowledge that they were chasing a red herring. The war left Robert M. LaFollette exhausted, his reputation in tatters. His pursuit of positive reform during wartime made him anathema to “patriots.” But for those individuals in Wisconsin and nationally who found it difficult to speak out, LaFollette became a hero.

LaFollette escaped legal sanction, but Victor Berger, a founder of the Socialist Party of the United States, editor of the Milwaukee Leader newspaper and former congressman, became a prime government target, caught in the net of the Espionage Act. Immediately following the declaration of war by the United States, the Socialist Party called upon “workers of all countries to refuse support to their governments in their wars.” In Wisconsin, as in other states, socialists found their meetings disrupted, their speakers jailed, and supporters intimidated by local law enforcement and vigilante super patriots. One socialist leader was arrested for “seditious talking.” The Wisconsin State Senate expelled the German-born socialist Frank Raguse, who represented Milwaukee, for a negative remark about patriotism.

The chairman of the party in Kenosha was jailed shortly before he was scheduled to speak at a rally and was released after the rally was canceled. In the community of Theresa, 600 members of the Wisconsin Loyalty Legion prevented socialist Emil Seidel, former mayor of Milwaukee, from speaking at what they considered a pro-German meeting. In Sauk County, socialist journalist Oscar Ameringer was protected from loyalist “visitors” by farmers armed with pitchforks. Whether by indictment or intimidation, the result was the same: abrogation of free speech and stifling of policy debate.

The Espionage Act of 1917 provided an ideal tool with which to attack disloyal speech. During the war, 90 people in Wisconsin were indicted for 183 violations of the Espionage Act.

As editor of the Milwaukee Leader, Berger tried to accomplish the near-impossible: remain true to socialism but avoid running afoul of the Espionage Act. Berger’s newspaper maintained its steady attack on capitalist war profiteering. He emphasized his opposition to the war, but he made a point never to advocate resistance or interference with the war effort. The strategy failed. In an attempt to destroy the newspaper, the Post Office Department restricted distribution of the Leader. In the spring of 1918, Berger was indicted under the Espionage Act based on five editorials he wrote for the Leader. In 1919 he was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Two years later, an appellate court threw out his conviction due to biases exhibited by the judge during his trial.

Just as Woodrow Wilson feared, the war brought repression to those who voiced opposition to government policies—at just the time debate over those policies was needed most. Although real spies and saboteurs threatened the United States during the war, they were seldom homegrown and seldom members of Wisconsin’s large German-American community.

Governor Emanuel Philipp, a Republican, was an important voice against this repression. He believed in the loyalty and patriotism of the entire state regardless of ethnicity, and routinely told audiences: “There is nothing wrong with Wisconsin.” In his most strident denunciation of super patriots, Governor Philipp declared that the willingness to charge others with disloyalty “is a type of impudence that is indulged in by a class of self-asserted patriots who are the greatest menace to the country today, because they discourage what the country needs above all things during a crisis, and that is the hearty cooperation of all the people in support of the war.”

It is all too easy to limit free speech in wartime. Such limits threaten American democracy far more than the speech they target.

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The Reporter Who Helped Persuade FDR to Tell the Truth About Warhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/08/reporter-helped-persuade-fdr-tell-truth-war/ideas/essay/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/01/08/reporter-helped-persuade-fdr-tell-truth-war/ideas/essay/#comments Mon, 08 Jan 2018 08:01:45 +0000 By Ray E. Boomhower http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=90324 Betio, part of the Tarawa Atoll, is a small, bird-shaped island along the equator in the central Pacific. Early in the morning on November 20, 1943, elements of the Second Marine Division boarded tracked landing vehicles (“amtracs”) and headed for Betio’s beaches. As part of an operation codenamed Galvanic, the Marines hoped to clear the heavily defended island of Japanese forces under the command of Rear Admiral Keiji Shibasaki and capture its vital airfield. The Japanese commander had boasted to his approximately 4,800 troops that “a million men couldn’t take Tarawa in 100 years.”

It took the Marines just 76 hours to capture the two-mile-long island. But they paid a terrible price. The vaunted Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces who helped to defend Betio were sheltered in fortified pillboxes and bunkers around the island. They prepared heavy anti-boat guns, howitzers, mortars, heavy machine guns, and rifles to deliver murderous fire

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Betio, part of the Tarawa Atoll, is a small, bird-shaped island along the equator in the central Pacific. Early in the morning on November 20, 1943, elements of the Second Marine Division boarded tracked landing vehicles (“amtracs”) and headed for Betio’s beaches. As part of an operation codenamed Galvanic, the Marines hoped to clear the heavily defended island of Japanese forces under the command of Rear Admiral Keiji Shibasaki and capture its vital airfield. The Japanese commander had boasted to his approximately 4,800 troops that “a million men couldn’t take Tarawa in 100 years.”

It took the Marines just 76 hours to capture the two-mile-long island. But they paid a terrible price. The vaunted Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces who helped to defend Betio were sheltered in fortified pillboxes and bunkers around the island. They prepared heavy anti-boat guns, howitzers, mortars, heavy machine guns, and rifles to deliver murderous fire on the advancing Americans. “The bullets were pouring at us like a sheet of rain,” one Marine private remembered of the initial landing. For a time, it seemed as though the Marines would be thrown back into the sea.

Correspondent Robert Sherrod, a 34-year-old Georgia native who covered the operation for Time magazine, said that it was the “only battle which I ever thought we were going to lose.”

Sherrod returned to Honolulu eight days after the initial landings on Beito. Some American media were expressing shock at the battle’s cost, with one example a December 4, 1943, front-page headline in The New York Times that read: “Grim Tarawa Defense a Surprise, Eyewitness of Battle Reveals; Marines Went in Chuckling to Find Swift Death Instead of Easy Conquest.” A distraught mother of a Marine killed on Beito sent a letter to Admiral Nimitz accusing him of “murdering my son,” and some lawmakers in Washington, D.C., threatened to start congressional investigations about the battle.

Sherrod, whose total mileage covering the Pacific war had reached 115,000 after Tarawa, had been amazed at the home-front attitude about what he called “the finest victory U.S. troops had won in this war.” Although the operation had not been perfectly planned or executed, as was the case in any military operation, by all the rules concerning amphibious warfare, the Marines should have suffered far more casualties than the Japanese. “Yet, for every Marine who was killed more than four Japs died—four of the best troops the Emperor had,” he said. “Looking at the defenses of Beito, it was no wonder our colonels could say: ‘With two battalions of Marines I could have held this island until hell froze over.’”

Sherrod was intensely aware of a major problem of World War II: the inadequate job done by America’s press in explaining war’s hard facts, which led Americans to expect an “easy war.” So Sherrod did the warning. The struggle to defeat the Japanese might well take years, he said, and American fighting men would suffer heavy losses “time and time again before we achieve the final victory.”

In his book, Tarawa: The Story of a Battle, released in 1943 and a bestseller, Sherrod recalled a conversation with a bomber pilot after returning from the Pacific who had told his mother what the war was really like and how long it would take to finish the job. The woman sat down and cried after hearing her son’s report. Sherrod also wanted to impress on the American public the cruel and inescapable facts that no amount of bombing and shelling could prevent the necessity of sending in foot soldiers to finish a job. “The corollary was this: there is no easy way to win the war; there is no panacea which will prevent men from getting killed,” Sherrod said, adding that to deprecate the Tarawa victory would “defame the memory of the gallant men who lost their lives achieving it.”

Although the reaction to publishing Strock’s image had been mixed, with some accusing Life of “morbid sensationalism,” Sherrod believed the time had come for the public to know what combat was really like.

Sherrod’s educational effort included influencing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s decision to release photographs and film footage taken on Beito.

On December 28, 1943, Sherrod attended a press conference in Washington, D.C., where Roosevelt talked about the demise of Doctor New Deal for a new physician—Doctor Win-the-War, “to take care of this fellow [the country] who had been in this bad accident. And the result is that the patient is back on his feet. He has given up his crutches. He isn’t wholly well yet, and he won’t be until he wins the war.”

At a luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel before the president’s press conference, Roosevelt’s press secretary, Steve Early, had suggested to Sherrod, who had met Roosevelt after the correspondent’s return from Australia in August 1942, that he see the president after he finished talking to the press.

After some pleasantries in the Oval Office, President Roosevelt turned to a subject Sherrod knew much about—Tarawa. In addition to coverage from civilian reporters and photographers, the action on Beito had been recorded on film by combat cameramen from the Second Marine Division, including Norman T. Hatch. On the island, Hatch and his assistant, Bill “Kelly” Kelleher, laden with 200 pounds of equipment, captured gripping footage of the action with an Eyemo 35-mm camera. They also made history during an assault against a massive enemy bunker when they were the first and only cameramen during the Pacific War to film Japanese troops and Marines together in combat. The film that Hatch and others shot was developed at Pearl Harbor and flown to Washington, D.C., where it was eventually incorporated into a 19-minute-long documentary to be produced by Warner Brothers and distributed by Universal Pictures.

President Roosevelt had been inclined to release the film and images showing the grim results of the battle on Tarawa, but wanted Sherrod’s opinion, as they were “pretty gory—they show a lot of dead,” said Roosevelt. Just a few months before, in September 1943, the U.S. Office of Censorship had allowed Life magazine to give the public its first view of dead American soldiers—a shot by George Strock of three nameless infantrymen lying dead, half-buried in the sand with their faces unseen, on the beach at Buna after a Japanese ambush.

Although the reaction to publishing Strock’s image had been mixed, with some accusing Life of “morbid sensationalism,” Sherrod believed the time had come for the public to know what combat was really like. He agreed with the president that the images were gruesome, but noted, “that’s the way the war is out there, and I think the people are going to have to get used to that idea.”

Roosevelt agreed, and approved releasing the Tarawa images and film on March 2, 1944. Hatch’s footage was an essential part of the Oscar–winning documentary With the Marines at Tarawa. The New York Times praised the film, noting that its footage had “all the immediacy of personal participation in the fight, and its sense of actual combat in close quarters is overwhelmingly real.” The sale of war bonds rose after the film’s release.

As for Sherrod, he returned to the Central Pacific to report on the suffering and bravery of American fighting men on Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In his writing he kept one thought in the back of his mind: to tell “wishful-thinking Americans that war is not always the romantic, smashing adventure the afternoon newspaper headlines make it; nor is it a duel that is won by swarms of high-flying airplanes. War is a cruel, desperate necessity which calls for courage and suffering. It is too bad, but it is true.”

Although he never was quite able to bridge the immense gulf of understanding between the home front and the battlefront, Sherrod kept on trying, continuing to report on the Marines as they battled the Japanese on Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, the last great battle of the war in the Pacific. A war correspondent, he believed, could not write with the perspective that time furnished—that was best left to “the historians and their mountains of official records.” What Sherrod attempted to do was to write about what he saw, heard, and felt, reflecting, as best he could, “the mood of men in battle, as those men appear and talk and fight.” He did so as well as any reporter of his time.

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We Shouldn’t Rely on Politicians to Memorialize Our Fallen Soldiershttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/10/shouldnt-rely-politicians-memorialize-fallen-soldiers/ideas/essay/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/10/shouldnt-rely-politicians-memorialize-fallen-soldiers/ideas/essay/#comments Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:01:38 +0000 By Kelly Kennedy http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89299 Five U.S. infantry soldiers died on June 21, 2007, when their 30-ton Bradley tracked vehicle hit a deep-buried bomb in Adhamiyah, Iraq.

I was embedded as a reporter with their unit when they died, and I watched as the men who served with them rallied.

They reached out to the mothers and fathers and wives, offering and seeking comfort, but also saying what they believed needed to be heard:

It was quick.
We were with them at the end.
We will never forget.

The families often reach back too, spreading wide wings over the men and women left behind in return for stories of their sons and daughters and wives and husbands.

“You can call me ‘mom,’ because he can’t.”
“Tell me again about the time she …. ”

A service member’s bond with a Gold Star family feels profound because it squares so many different contradictions. The relationship is

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Five U.S. infantry soldiers died on June 21, 2007, when their 30-ton Bradley tracked vehicle hit a deep-buried bomb in Adhamiyah, Iraq.

I was embedded as a reporter with their unit when they died, and I watched as the men who served with them rallied.

They reached out to the mothers and fathers and wives, offering and seeking comfort, but also saying what they believed needed to be heard:

It was quick.
We were with them at the end.
We will never forget.

The families often reach back too, spreading wide wings over the men and women left behind in return for stories of their sons and daughters and wives and husbands.

“You can call me ‘mom,’ because he can’t.”
“Tell me again about the time she …. ”

A service member’s bond with a Gold Star family feels profound because it squares so many different contradictions. The relationship is about both loss and presence, about courage and fear, and about a link with the loved one with whom we no longer can connect.

But, as the families and veterans wrap around each other, these tight bonds can exclude those in our communities who haven’t served in the military themselves or who don’t know anyone who serves now. Such exclusion may seem a small point in the immediate context of soldiers and families grieving those they loved. And letting a wider group of people into a tragedy may seem like too much for people who already carry a heavy burden of loss.

But exclusion has real-world consequences for families, communities, and the country as a whole.

How can we grieve for service members we don’t know, but who so completely represent us? How can we support families who don’t convey their grief and experiences beyond those tight bonds? And how, without paying attention to more than just headlines, can we feel the weight of a particular family member’s words, while fully understanding the diversity of that community?

If civilians don’t know about, understand, or feel comfortable reaching out to service members’ families, that can lead to those in the military, and their families, feeling isolated, abandoned, and afraid to speak.

We send people to war, but the contract shouldn’t end with their lives.

Renee Wood-Vincent, whose son Sgt. Ryan Wood died that day in Iraq, said she feels that fallen soldiers can be forgotten, and that there’s a lack of respect and knowledge in the public for what families and members of the military experience. But that also creates an obligation to reach out.

“There’s such a focus on what’s happening to us—it’s all about our sorrow, our problems, our military families—and we aren’t letting people in,” she said.

Letting people in can’t be done alone. It requires civilian leaders who can bridge and connect people. And in the United States, the highest bridge is embodied in one office, the presidency.

That’s why it’s so important that the person occupying that office be able to connect with soldiers and their families.

When the president reaches out to Gold Star families, he speaks for the civilians who made the decision with their votes to send service members to war. Even if a letter or phone call does not bring comfort, it is an acknowledgment of sacrifice for country. It’s why scrutiny of President Trump’s calls with Gold Star families is warranted.

Private First Class Ryan Hill and his mother Shawna Fenison. Photo courtesy of Kelly Kennedy.

But whatever the nature of the president’s words, the most important thing to know is that his words aren’t enough. A president should serve only as a starting point for civilians to reach out. “If I rely on politicians to memorialize Ryan and understand his sacrifice, I’m going to be sorely disappointed,” Wood-Vincent said. “They can empathize, but it’s still a number.”

Wood-Vincent received a letter from President George W. Bush, which she said was enough in a time of war, when the commander-in-chief should be dealing with national issues. So did Shawna Fenison, whose son, Private First Class Ryan Hill, served with Wood in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion 26th Infantry Regiment. Hill died on January 20, 2007, in Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee.

But the letter wasn’t enough. “I don’t think the country cares about us and would rather we just go away,” she said.

That feeling represents a failure, and a historic shift. The concept of the Gold Star family began as an invitation for conversation and caring between civilians and military.

During World War I, a family could hang the red-bordered flag with two blue stars in the front window to alert the neighborhood that two sons served overseas.

The neighbors could say, “Heard from your boy?” or “Where’s he fighting?”

If one of those stars turned to gold, the conversation changed.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you for your sacrifice.”

But as wars turned more political and became less of a community effort—during World Wars I and II, most families had relatives or friends serving—the conversation changed again. Some families folded their flags when they felt they brought unwanted attention during the Vietnam War. In recent wars, the rarity of the flags offered reminders of just how few people served. About 7 percent of Americans have served in the military, and less than 1 percent serve now in our all-volunteer armed forces.

Both Fenison and Wood-Vincent were initially showered with gifts: flags. Artwork anonymously sent in the mail. Letters from strangers. “I have a large, supportive family,” Wood-Vincent said. “My neighborhood happens to be very military.” At work, people knew her son and offered condolences. People told her they fly the American flag for her son.

“We had a neighbor who came down every night for two years and prayed over our home,” she said. “I had never met her. I would see her out there in the summertime, in the wintertime, standing in the rain with her little dog.”

People still leave things on her porch.

“It may be the part of the country I’m in, or the neighborhood,” she said. “But part of it is the people I’ve surrounded myself with.”

Fenison had a similar experience, at first. But then, as people moved on with their lives or grew disenchanted with the wars, they encouraged her to stop talking about her son, to take down the “shrine” she’d assembled in her home that included her son’s pictures and the flag from his coffin.

“When I talk about Ryan, many will change the subject or give me the look of ‘Here she goes again,’ so I find myself withdrawing more and more,” she said. “Communities are good about honoring on Memorial Day with their token events, but it pretty much stops there.

“While my world has stopped, the rest has moved on.”

The families ache for the engagement—for someone to care. For someone to mourn their losses. For someone to look up Niger on a map and not only think about what it might have felt like to be doing what you, yes, signed up for and loved—but also to contemplate the terror and heartbreak for service members, friends, and families.

But, as the families and veterans wrap around each other, these tight bonds can exclude those in our communities who haven’t served in the military themselves or who don’t know anyone who serves now.

Those flags should serve as a call to action: This family’s sacrifice represents you. Gather them up. Listen to their stories.

“It’s much more complicated than people know,” Wood-Vincent said.

“On one hand, I’m a mother who lost a child no matter how he was taken from the world. I’m not thinking of him as a soldier.”

But then she explains to strangers how he died.

“People will say, ‘Oh, what a shame. What a waste,’” she said. “Don’t assume I feel the same.”

Sometimes, she said, she gets angry and wants to walk away. Other times, she reminds herself that she can’t be mad about people’s ignorance about proper responses or “Gold Star” moms if she’s not helping to educate them.

“I’ll think, ‘That person just made me so angry,’” she said. “Why? Well, my son’s loss was not a waste. Give me 10 seconds in the parking lot to tell you why. If someone sees your Gold Star plate and says, ‘What is that?’, you don’t say, ‘Hey. You’re an idiot. You should know.’”

She sees her personal call to action as part of that big conversation. Every summer, she invites her son’s brothers in arms to a reunion. Her family created a scholarship to celebrate his art—punk-rock drawings that expressed convictions about being different and doing your part to save the world—through the university. And she told his story at several events.

She makes sure people know and remember him, and through that, she closes the divide.

She believes that communities can, too. Local organizations can invite in Gold Star family members. They can form community partnerships—Boy Scouts who adopt families, or Junior Leaguers who organize lunches, or schools that bring Gold Star alumni in as speakers. Communities can organize town halls about what families need—even if that need is simply relaying kind questions to ask. Leaders can ensure families are remembered beyond Memorial Day.

And Gold Star families have to be willing to accept those invitations.

“You’ve got to open yourself,” Wood-Vincent said. “They’ll never completely understand, and thank God for that. But they will never understand if we don’t invite them in.”

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The Role of War and Sacrifice in Russia’s Mythic Identityhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/03/role-war-sacrifice-russias-mythic-identity/ideas/essay/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/03/role-war-sacrifice-russias-mythic-identity/ideas/essay/#respond Fri, 03 Nov 2017 07:01:47 +0000 By Gregory Carleton http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89183 If you want to understand Russia better, think of war. But not the one in eastern Ukraine or the frightening possibility of a conflict with NATO.

Go back instead to Russia’s 1945 victory over Nazi Germany. That triumph is the greatest event in Russia’s thousand-year history. In the largest war ever, Russia led the Soviet Union in crushing absolute evil and thereby saved the world from destruction.

Yes, Britain and the United States played a significant role in that victory, but Russians can counter by noting—accurately—that the back of Hitler’s army was broken on the Eastern Front before the Normandy landings. Russians also can say that no country has made a greater sacrifice in war. Officially, nearly 27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives.

Or, put in a different perspective, more people died in the siege of Leningrad (around one million) than the British and United States lost, combined, across

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If you want to understand Russia better, think of war. But not the one in eastern Ukraine or the frightening possibility of a conflict with NATO.

Go back instead to Russia’s 1945 victory over Nazi Germany. That triumph is the greatest event in Russia’s thousand-year history. In the largest war ever, Russia led the Soviet Union in crushing absolute evil and thereby saved the world from destruction.

Yes, Britain and the United States played a significant role in that victory, but Russians can counter by noting—accurately—that the back of Hitler’s army was broken on the Eastern Front before the Normandy landings. Russians also can say that no country has made a greater sacrifice in war. Officially, nearly 27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives.

Or, put in a different perspective, more people died in the siege of Leningrad (around one million) than the British and United States lost, combined, across the entire globe during the war.

It is no wonder that May 9, when Russia celebrates VE Day, has become its greatest secular holiday. This victorious past is projected not only through the massive military parade in Red Square, which features soldiers both in contemporary and period uniforms, but also by its most demonstrative ritual: the march of the “Immortal Regiment.” This is when ordinary Russians, each holding high the photograph of a relative who served, flood the streets to form a single, massive procession.

In 2017, in Moscow alone, the official estimate put their numbers at 600,000, with President Putin at their head. Live television coverage highlighted the many children, themselves in uniforms recalling the war, reciting the feats of their great-grandparents.

Virtually every city in Russia hosts its own march of the Immortals, thus uniting the nation across 11 time zones through the blood of their greatest generation. The parade also makes a global statement both figuratively (by flying the flags of countries Russia helped save from the Nazi yoke, including the United States) and literally (with parallel marches of descendants of Soviet veterans in cities like London and New York).

VE Day has become the center of a civic religion showcasing the sacrifice Russians have made to save humanity from tyranny. The sentiment is so powerful—and not restricted to that day alone—that it anchors a prevailing myth of Russian exceptionalism.

Russia’s army, its people, and its harsh winters combined to push back Napoleon Bonaparte’s invading French forces, leading to the emperor’s disastrous retreat in 1812. Art courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

That myth has been fueled by the Second World War, but it did not begin there. In 1812, when Napoleon invaded Russia, the conflict was framed in existential terms, with the French emperor officially tagged as the anti-Christ. The outcome of that titanic struggle was seen by contemporaries as nothing short of a miracle: Russia, by itself, destroyed the largest army the world had yet seen and then led a coalition to rescue Europe from French tyranny. They succeeded, occupying Paris in 1814, and sounding the death-knell for Napoleon’s dreams of dominating the world.

No other nation could claim such a victory, which fueled an explosion of Russian patriotism. (Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo in 1815 was seen as a futile last gasp.) The victory united Russian writers and intellectuals across the political spectrum—conservatives such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, socialists like Vissarion Belinsky, icons of romanticism like Mikhail Lermontov—in the idea that Russia was a special country that had accomplished a special mission.

By century’s end, this idea became doctrine in the highest echelons of the military. As the director of Russia’s equivalent of West Point proudly proclaimed in 1898 (with emphasis in the original): “It is in the Russian people’s willingness to lay down their lives for others that one finds the key to understanding the special nature of Russia’s experience of war which so acutely distinguishes it from the experiences of other countries in the West.”

Why did he use the present tense when nearly a hundred years separated him from the miracle of 1812? It was because during that century Russian scholars and writers had delved deeper into history and found evidence that their triumph over tyranny had an even earlier precursor, suggesting that stopping invaders was part of Russia’s collective identity.

When the Mongols swept into Europe in the 13th century, they never made it appreciably further west than Russia’s lands (including those of present-day Ukraine and Belarus). Was this earlier defense, Russians would ask six centuries later, yet another sign of Russia’s definitive role in sacrificing to protect others?

Russia’s greatest writer, Alexander Pushkin, was among those who thought yes.

“We have had our own special mission,” he wrote in 1836. “Russia, with its immense expanses, was what absorbed the Mongol conquest. They did not dare to cross our western frontier and leave us in the rear. They withdrew back to the desert and Christian civilization was saved. And for achieving that goal we have had to lead a completely unique existence.”

With the seeds of exceptionalism already deeply sown in Russia’s historical imagination, the 20th century, and World War II, provided further confirmation of the country’s status as a force for good in the world.

Today Russia’s historical self-image colors its current stand-off with NATO. Does that military coalition not echo previous invaders like Napoleon and Hitler whose forces were not exclusively French or German but were also multi-national coalitions? What better demonstrates the West’s ingrained, collective hostility towards Russia?

VE Day has become the center of a civic religion showcasing the sacrifice Russians have made to save humanity from tyranny.

To amplify that sentiment today, Russia’s political and popular culture tap even more into its military past. Besides the Mongols, Napoleon, and Hitler, Russia has been invaded nearly every century of its existence. When the Mongols attacked from the east, its western neighbors, the Swedes and Teutonic knights, attacked as well—only to be defeated by Russia’s greatest medieval warrior, Alexander Nevsky. In the 16th century, the Crimean Tatars drove north and burned Moscow. In the 17th, the Poles repeated that feat while deposing the tsar and killing the patriarch of the Russian Church. In the 18th century, the Swedes invaded but were stopped only by Peter the Great.

This history is applied to current events in ways that play well with the general population. The annexation of Crimea in 2014 can be spun as the necessary defense of native Russians from alleged Ukrainian persecution. The same story can justify the conflict in eastern Ukraine (though the Kremlin denies active involvement, noting that Ukrainian separatists are assisted, if at all, by Russian volunteers).

And NATO’s expansion to Russia’s very borders—how can that not be evidence of yet another plot to take Russia down? If NATO arose to counter the military threat posed by the Soviet Union, then with the latter’s collapse in 1991, what possible motivation can there be for its continued existence and eastern expansion if Russia is not its ultimate target?

Filtered through the nation’s mythic history, the answers to these questions come easily to many Russians, and they help cushion its isolation and the bite of sanctions—at least in terms of morale. Whatever the West does—from sanctions to enhanced NATO deployments close to Russia’s borders—it feeds a historical narrative in which Russia, on the defensive and sacrificing for the good and just, always wins in the end.

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What Losing a War Does to a Nation’s Psychehttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/10/17/losing-war-nations-psyche/ideas/essay/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/10/17/losing-war-nations-psyche/ideas/essay/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 07:01:39 +0000 By Edgar A. Porter http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=88831 In the spring of 1976, while visiting the Tokyo Zoo, I was confronted with the unforgettable sight of an aging former Japanese soldier, wearing a ragged army uniform and cap, and bowing before all who entered.

One of his legs had been amputated. A begging bowl before him, he bowed as low as he could to Japanese families coming to see the newly arrived pandas. A few placed coins in his bowl quickly and moved on. It was a shockingly sad sight, with an aura of shame, silence, and neglect surrounding him.

I reacted strongly in part because I had recently visited China. There I was struck by the self-confidence exhibited by the men and women of the military, whether walking down the street or in military formation. The people, in turn, spoke with respect and pride of the older generation who had fought in what they called “our” People’s

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In the spring of 1976, while visiting the Tokyo Zoo, I was confronted with the unforgettable sight of an aging former Japanese soldier, wearing a ragged army uniform and cap, and bowing before all who entered.

One of his legs had been amputated. A begging bowl before him, he bowed as low as he could to Japanese families coming to see the newly arrived pandas. A few placed coins in his bowl quickly and moved on. It was a shockingly sad sight, with an aura of shame, silence, and neglect surrounding him.

I reacted strongly in part because I had recently visited China. There I was struck by the self-confidence exhibited by the men and women of the military, whether walking down the street or in military formation. The people, in turn, spoke with respect and pride of the older generation who had fought in what they called “our” People’s Liberation Army.

Watching this former Japanese soldier, I found myself thinking: Whether a country wins or loses dictates society’s response to war. Of course, this is not a new observation, nor is it unique to Japan. But that does not lessen the power of the phenomenon, or the pain of defeat experienced by a Japanese society that puts so much emphasis on collective effort and shame.

A lost war created a particularly shaken culture of quiet despair in Japan. So when I am asked today, after living in Japan for 10 years, how it is that many Japanese still refuse to acknowledge their country’s role in bringing misery to so many people through its 1931 invasion of Manchuria, and later occupation of greater China, Singapore, the Philippines, and elsewhere during what the Japanese call The Pacific War, I think of that old soldier whose presence brought such distress to his fellow Japanese.

For several years my wife and I interviewed dozens of ordinary people for a book about Japan during World War II and the American Occupation. These conversations helped me see the old soldier again, this time from the viewpoint of Japanese still struggling with a legacy of shame mixed with forgetfulness.

Through them I could hear those families walk by the old soldier asking, “Why are you here to remind us of our loss and humiliation?” “Why did you come back but not my father, my brother, my son?” And why, to put a hard point to it, did he not commit suicide like so many others?

I came to realize that the soldier represented a depth of shame that sowed seeds for the generations that came after the war. And that shame was both infectious—touching younger generations who had no experience of the war—and normal.

This peculiar normalcy of shame mixed with faded memory has been encouraged for decades by the Japanese national elite in the political, education, business, and journalism fields. One reason for this is that many of the elite are themselves direct descendants of war era leaders. They are not predisposed to have their family members, or the names of their companies, affiliated negatively with either the atrocities, or the loss, of that war.

The Japanese media rarely challenge the government directly. With the exception of a few representatives from the press, such as the “Asahi Shimbun,” most have avoided analyzing critically what happened during the war so as not to lose access to government and business officials.

Kiichi Kawano is a former kamikaze pilot. Scheduled to fly out on a mission the day after the war ended, he has built a private museum in his basement to memorialize his comrades who died. Photo by Edgar A. Porter

The people’s willingness to follow the example of these elites should come as no surprise, for in the years immediately following the war, hunger and despondency stalked the country. The elites, in concert with the American Occupation forces, put their efforts into rebuilding the country. There was little energy left to reflect on the past, even if anyone had been predisposed to do so.

As factories and homes were built, or rebuilt, and infrastructure put in place, Japan experienced a growing optimism. By the time of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the country was justly proud of its achievements. The shame brought by the war never disappeared, but receded into the background of public discourse, where it lay for decades in the minds of many.

But not all. Despite the absence of any vibrant public debate, there have always been those who insisted on uncovering uncomfortable truths about their history. These efforts typically came from the grassroots: Local historical associations publish memoirs of war survivors and construct war memorial museums (almost universally called Peace Museums), and progressive teachers have gone beyond the authorized texts to guide their students on discoveries about the war years. Authors such as novelist Shusaku Endo and historian Eri Hotta have tackled painful and secretive war events.

Finally, individuals such as the ones we interviewed for our book have shined a light on those terrible years, climbing over the wall of shame and silence to educate as best they can, with limited resources and often without the encouragement of family or community.

But all of these efforts exist at the margins, because the national narrative still has a chilling effect on getting to the deeper, more complex story.

Two former soldiers we spoke with showed the difficulty of piecing together a more complete story. The first man spent part of a morning sharing with us the lives of both his family and himself as a combatant during the war. But toward the end of the interview, when we asked him to pose for a photo holding a family heirloom battle flag his brother had carried during the war, he refused. He said it would be disrespectful and shameful to have his photo taken with the flag, as it would seem to honor Japan’s defeat.

In the years immediately following the war, hunger and despondency stalked the country…There was little energy left to reflect on the past, even if anyone had been predisposed to do so.

The other man told us of his disbelief and desolation when, in Indonesia at the end of the war, he heard that Japan was defeated. Upon returning home after over a year as a detainee held by allied forces, he shuttered himself in the family home. The depression and shame brought on by the startling failure of their cause, and his humiliation that he had lived when so many of his friends had died, only began to lift two years later. Even after leaving his house, he could not cope with seeing American Occupation forces walking around his town of Beppu. He occasionally fought with them, landed in jail, and spent years in and out of trouble.

He explained that he only began to confront his anger and shame when his granddaughter asked him to tell her what he did during the war. It was a class assignment from her teacher, one of those few who pushed the students to get out and learn more about their own history.

Japan’s reluctance to address its history directly places it in a large camp of like-minded states. Growing up in the American South, my textbooks never honestly described the history or horror of slavery. The Chinese government censors many details of the Cultural Revolution and the full story of the Tiananmen protests and eventual killings of 1989. Under Putin, the Russian government discourages discussion of Stalin’s brutality, such as the authorized population displacements and famine of the 1930s. And Turkey to this day refuses to acknowledge the full extent of its slaughter of the Armenian people in the early 20th century.

But Japan need not remain in this camp. It can follow another model, that of its former ally, Germany.

The German government has established Documentation Centers around the country which detail, without ambiguity, the development and consequences of National Socialism and the Nazi Party. In Japan the closest examples of Documentation Centers are the small, community-based Peace Museums dotting the country. Unlike the German centers, however, the message in these museums is mixed. While all emphasize the need to learn from the horror of the war by promoting world peace, they avoid in depth discussion of how, and why, Japan went to war. Instead they honor their own civilian and military dead, following the general story line of Japan as victim.

While Japanese children still study texts that mention the war only briefly, German schoolchildren find an honest and transparent rendering of the role Nazis, and by inference members of their own families, played in the deaths of millions of people. It is not left to individual teachers and private citizens to fill this void.

I think that the aging soldier I saw at the gate of the Tokyo Zoo 40 years ago represented both the past and future of Japan. Going off to war he was a hero. But upon return he only served as a reminder of the misguided and horrific tragedy orchestrated by the militarist government of war time Japan.

Through truth telling and reconciliation, current and future generations can uncover layers of hidden history and be freed of the national shame and humiliation. We encountered many Japanese who want to move in this direction. What they hope for is a national leadership that will find inspiration from them and follow suit.

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How This Journalist Is Surviving Mexico’s Drug Warshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/07/26/journalist-surviving-mexicos-drug-wars/ideas/nexus/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/07/26/journalist-surviving-mexicos-drug-wars/ideas/nexus/#comments Wed, 26 Jul 2017 07:01:41 +0000 By Diego Enrique Osorno http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=87014 In early 2007 I lost a plane ticket that I had purchased to travel to Africa. My plan was to arrive in Nairobi and stay two months, since the World Social Forum was scheduled to be held there in February of that year. I hoped to obtain some interesting insights, as well as personal contacts that would let me take the first steps toward becoming a war correspondent on that continent.

But just as that year began, Mexico’s then-president Felipe Calderón, feeling pressured politically, declared a war on drug trafficking. So when I least expected it, instead of wandering around in Kenya, I abandoned my planned trip to Africa and instead found myself riding in a Mexican army assault vehicle, wearing a military helmet and a bullet-proof vest, crisscrossing the Tierra Caliente (Hot Lands) region of the south-central Mexican state of Michoacán.

A correspondent is one who sends news from

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In early 2007 I lost a plane ticket that I had purchased to travel to Africa. My plan was to arrive in Nairobi and stay two months, since the World Social Forum was scheduled to be held there in February of that year. I hoped to obtain some interesting insights, as well as personal contacts that would let me take the first steps toward becoming a war correspondent on that continent.

But just as that year began, Mexico’s then-president Felipe Calderón, feeling pressured politically, declared a war on drug trafficking. So when I least expected it, instead of wandering around in Kenya, I abandoned my planned trip to Africa and instead found myself riding in a Mexican army assault vehicle, wearing a military helmet and a bullet-proof vest, crisscrossing the Tierra Caliente (Hot Lands) region of the south-central Mexican state of Michoacán.

A correspondent is one who sends news from somewhere far away from his own previous reality, or from the reality of others. I became a correspondent, filing dispatches about an outbreak of barbarism—but in my own country.

Ten years later, the statistics show that, since Mexico’s drug war exploded in 2006, nearly 200,000 people have been violently killed, 30,000 more have disappeared, and another 35,000 have been displaced. Mexico is by no means a dictatorship, but so far in the 21st century it has recorded a greater number of human rights violations than occurred under any Latin American dictatorship in the last hundred years. Many of us Mexican journalists leave our homes every day to seek out and tell others about the barbarity that coexists here with democracy.

Faced with such a peculiar situation, it is impossible to do our job with one set of skills. After this grueling decade’s experience, I believe that anyone who covers drug trafficking in Mexico must have the attributes of a military correspondent, a private detective, and a poet.

At times I have felt like a war reporter. I remember flyovers of military planes in Oaxaca that preceded a shootout lasting about two hours, during which I helped carry an injured photographer colleague out of the line of fire and witnessed the murder of the U.S. independent journalist Bradley Roland Will at the hands of paramilitary groups whose existence the authorities denied. As in any war, you cannot rely on official sources.

At other times, I have had to carry out my investigations with the cautious precision of a detective. The monitoring and tracking of people, covert infiltration, and the compiling of judicial and criminal profiles are necessary resources in the face of the challenges of our present situation, where you have to protect not only your own integrity, but also the lives of your contacts and sources. It wasn’t until this year, after taking a course at a U.S. detective academy, that I discovered the similarity between the two professions.

But it has been poetry that has saved me from losing my mind during these trips to the abysses of reality. Thanks to poetry, I have been able to take care of my loved ones, despite my frenetic and at times neurotic work process. If at the end of the day there was not a poem by César Vallejo, or by Samuel Noyola, I never would have escaped the deep emotional chasms I have known during these years of keeping company with capos, generals, assassins, governors, businessmen, and other members of the savage wilderness. Without poetry, I could not do journalism.

Mexico is by no means a dictatorship, but so far in the 21st century it has recorded a greater number of human rights violations than occurred under any Latin American dictatorship in the last hundred years. 

“Worn, ragged, empty, words have become skeletons of words, phantom words; everyone chews them up and belches their sound,” wrote Arthur Adamov during World War II. Seeing that same distortion of language in my daily work—the inadequacy of words to describe what is happening in Mexico—in 2011 I wrote a manifesto of infrarrealist journalism. Infrarrealist journalism, in short, is a herd of solitary wolves.

The desire for survival also unites solitary wolves, and I am not speaking metaphorically: In 2016 there were 11 murders of journalists in Mexico, and in total there were 426 attacks. During the current government of Enrique Peña Nieto, 32 comrades have been killed. On average, every 20 days a Mexican journalist dies violently for completing his or her job. Only this year, so far, Carlos García has died in Colima; Cecilio Pineda in Guerrero; Ricardo Monlui in Veracruz; Mirosalva Breach in Chihuahua; Max Rodríguez in Baja California; Javier Valdez in Sinaloa; and right now, just as I am writing this, I read that they have found the oxidized remains of Salvador Adame, a journalist kidnapped and disappeared a few weeks ago in Michoacán.

Taking into account that I am an independent journalist—the lowest species on the media food chain, but probably the most joyful—the current situation has caused me to take more personal security measures, because I don’t have a big media company to back me up, or anyone else to watch out for me. These measures include keeping several backups of key documents, compartmentalizing sensitive information among friends and collaborators, avoiding certain subjects in emails, WhatsApps, and phone calls, and even now and then writing a kind of confidential will, where I register what I am doing so that in case of an extraordinary situation that information can be used against whoever is responsible.

Otherwise, I’m a Stone Age reporter, doing things the old-school way. So I record everything I can while doing field work. In fact, I fill up two notebooks: one where I put hard data, and another where I write down sensations or ramblings. I also take photos, to help me remember later, and I try to make video. I like to stay as long as possible in places. I return two or three times, if possible.

When I arrive for the first time, I look for a local colleague, but also for a local school teacher and a priest. When I am lucky I meet a poet, and I am very happy. Journalists, priests, teachers, and poets are often my gurus in the immersion process that is needed in order to write the chronicle of a dangerous and unknown location.

When I am not reporting, I get up early to drop off my child at school, and then lock myself away to write from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. I almost always have too many things accumulated in my notebooks and in my memory, so I have to structure my texts. Then I write them out several times, and usually review them in order to prepare a risk analysis in the event that they are published. Almost all my books and long-form pieces are reviewed by lawyers.

Being a correspondent in your own home compels you to be creative—in your ways of devising a story, and of investigating, structuring, writing, and publishing it, but above all in your ways of surviving it. I am happy with the life that has fallen to me, and I wish to die of old age, writing in front of a computer. I have no vocation as a martyr. I am a person with more hopes than fears.

However, over these 10 years I have learned that each story has to take a risk. There should be no cowardice when writing in times like these. It is probable that I have written some failed texts, but I do not allow myself to write cowardly texts. When you are a correspondent of barbarism in your own home, your main duty is to take risks. In this way, I think, we can decipher one day this atrocious mystery into which we fell as a country, just when it seemed that democracy was going to save us.

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How Deprivation and the Threat of Violence Made Sweden Equalhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/04/19/how-deprivation-and-threat-violence-made-seweden-equal/ideas/nexus/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/04/19/how-deprivation-and-threat-violence-made-seweden-equal/ideas/nexus/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 07:01:50 +0000 By Walter Scheidel http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=84895 Sweden is almost universally regarded as a bastion of sensible people, temperate social policies, and steady, evenly distributed economic growth. So it surprises many to learn that the Scandinavian country only got to be this way in the last century, and that the catalyst was violent upheaval: two world wars and the Great Depression.

Economic inequality has always been with us, and when you observe a dramatic market compression you can always link it to a disastrous event. These events come in four flavors: intense popular military mobilization, violent and transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic epidemics. These are very severe episodes that hold true across history. It is very hard, if not impossible, to find any episode of major equalization that is not linked to one of these four types of events.

Just as in many other developed countries at the time, external shocks—in the form of war and

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Sweden is almost universally regarded as a bastion of sensible people, temperate social policies, and steady, evenly distributed economic growth. So it surprises many to learn that the Scandinavian country only got to be this way in the last century, and that the catalyst was violent upheaval: two world wars and the Great Depression.

Economic inequality has always been with us, and when you observe a dramatic market compression you can always link it to a disastrous event. These events come in four flavors: intense popular military mobilization, violent and transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic epidemics. These are very severe episodes that hold true across history. It is very hard, if not impossible, to find any episode of major equalization that is not linked to one of these four types of events.

Just as in many other developed countries at the time, external shocks—in the form of war and the Great Depression—acted as critical catalysts for Sweden’s redistributive fiscal reform and the eventual expansion of the welfare state.

Although Sweden is located at the margins of the European continent, it is adjacent to the major powers involved in both world wars: Germany, Great Britain, and Russia. In World War I, conservative Swedish elites sided with Germany and raked in large profits while food shortages caused by the Entente naval blockade and labor unrest rocked the country. Hunger marches near the end of the war triggered heavy-handed police responses.

Sweden, a nonbelligerent, largely missed out on the World War I surge in top taxation, and continued to lag behind Europe’s liberal democracies until the next war. Military mass mobilization, progressive graduation of tax rates, and the targeting of elite wealth on top of income constituted the three main ingredients of fiscal leveling. Popular discontent paved the way for the country’s first Liberal-Social Democrat coalition government, which started to take tentative steps in a more progressive direction under the growing shadow of the Russian Revolution not far from Sweden’s shores. Once the war had ended, overseas markets collapsed and industrial overcapacity ushered in financial crisis and unemployment. The wealthy, deeply enmeshed in these businesses, suffered disproportionately.

During World War II, when Germany invaded Denmark and Norway, Sweden was completely surrounded by the Nazis and their allies. Once the Nazi war machine had shifted into high gear, as a leading Social Democrat politician in 1940 put it, the Swedes found themselves “living in front of the muzzle of a loaded cannon.” The country was exposed to both German and Allied pressure. At one point Germany threatened to bomb Swedish cities unless granted transit concessions. Later in the war, Germany drew up a contingency plan for an invasion in the event of an Allied incursion into Sweden.

The Swedes had to put virtually everything on a war footing to stand a chance of defending themselves against an invasion. They experienced full mobilization—there was no actual fighting, but they mobilized a very large share of their population. They had to create military industries virtually out of nothing overnight. This crisis transformed what had been a right-wing military force into a people’s army based on mass conscription and volunteerism. Some 400,000 men served out of a population of 6.3 million, and of those, 50,000 soldiers were invalided as the result of injuries, accidents, and harsh service conditions. Strict rationing among the civilian population served as a crucial means of leveling class differences. Shared military and civilian service helped overcome existing distrust and fostered teamwork and mutual dependency.

The vision of Sweden as a small country that had been saved by a coalition government and societal consensus contributed to the formation of the ideal of a solidaristic society sustained by a redistributive welfare state.

As John Gilmour puts it in his landmark study of wartime Sweden, the country “experienced significant social, political, and economic disruption as a result of wartime conditions and emerged in 1945 as an altered society in attitude and aspiration.” The country “gained social benefits from war without suffering the same loss of life and property as the belligerents and occupied nations.”

All these things together produced an effect quite similar to what happened in countries that endured actual fighting. People were more willing to go along with it because of the perceived existential threat. This shows that societies did not have to experience this mass violence firsthand. It was enough if it happened next door and there was a serious risk of getting involved, and everyone had to prepare for this.

Sweden’s eightfold military build-up during World War II dramatically boosted income tax rates for top earners and corporations. Whereas fiscal responses to the Great Depression had remained modest, the tax reform of 1939 greatly raised top rates and created a temporary defense tax that became highly progressive only for the highest earners and that was further sharpened in 1940 and 1942. In addition, the statutory corporate tax rate rose to 40 percent. The strengthening of military capacity was the official rationale for all these measures. Thanks to the threat of war, in a telling departure from the fractious politics of the 1920s and 1930s, these reforms were passed with little debate or controversy as an almost unanimous political decision.

In this sense, Sweden did experience a major war mobilization effect that was conducive to the subsequent expansion of the welfare state. In the longer term, the war years left their mark on popular beliefs: The vision of Sweden as a small country that had been saved by a coalition government and societal consensus contributed to the formation of the ideal of a solidaristic society sustained by a redistributive welfare state.

Postwar policy was grounded in the wartime footing of the tax system and the shared war experience of the general population. In 1944, as the war was drawing to a close, the Social Democrats, together with the Trade Union Confederation, developed a policy program meant to equalize income and wealth by means of progressive taxation. This was part of the Social Democrats’ commitment to ensure that, as the Post-War Program put it, “the majority is liberated from dependence upon a few owners of capital, and the social order based on economic classes is replaced by a community of citizens cooperating on the basis of freedom and equality.”

After the war had ended, this program carried the day. The people had sacrificed during the war, and now expected something in return. The shared experience of the war years was the crucial catalyst for the blossoming of the Swedish welfare state.

But this may now, in fact, be changing. The offer of generous welfare for anyone who shows up in Sweden ended last spring when the country restored border controls between Sweden and Denmark for the first time in decades. And this was merely the latest step. Following a severe fiscal crisis in the early 1990s, the government had long been cutting back on welfare provisions and promoted privatization of public services. Thanks to these measures and the impact of globalization and technological change, income inequality before taxes and transfers has been rising for decades.

Sweden’s future, just like that of many other European countries with aging populations, depends on continuing immigration, in no small part from Africa and the Middle East. As Swedish society becomes more and more ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse, the social consensus on redistribution faces growing pressure. Europe has already shed much of its progressive postwar culture, and we must wonder how well Swedish egalitarianism will stand the test of time.

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As Machines Wage War, Human Nature Endureshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/03/29/machines-wage-war-human-nature-endures/ideas/nexus/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/03/29/machines-wage-war-human-nature-endures/ideas/nexus/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:01:50 +0000 By David H. Petraeus http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=84494 Over the past quarter century, the information technology revolution has transformed relations between people and between states, including in the conduct of warfare.

For the U.S. military, the manifestations of this revolution have covered the full spectrum from the dramatic to the prosaic. Unmanned aerial vehicles, ships, and ground systems now carry increasingly sophisticated surveillance capabilities and precision guided weapons. Less visible, but also hugely important, has been development of the ability to integrate and analyze vast quantities of intelligence from all sources and determine precise locations of friendly and enemy elements. Finally, we cannot overlook growth of the seemingly matter-of-fact but nonetheless essential reliance on email, video teleconferences, and applications like PowerPoint to communicate, share information, plan, and perform the tasks of command and control.

Information technologies that did not exist at the time of the first Gulf War are now so fundamental to the conduct of military operations

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Over the past quarter century, the information technology revolution has transformed relations between people and between states, including in the conduct of warfare.

For the U.S. military, the manifestations of this revolution have covered the full spectrum from the dramatic to the prosaic. Unmanned aerial vehicles, ships, and ground systems now carry increasingly sophisticated surveillance capabilities and precision guided weapons. Less visible, but also hugely important, has been development of the ability to integrate and analyze vast quantities of intelligence from all sources and determine precise locations of friendly and enemy elements. Finally, we cannot overlook growth of the seemingly matter-of-fact but nonetheless essential reliance on email, video teleconferences, and applications like PowerPoint to communicate, share information, plan, and perform the tasks of command and control.

Information technologies that did not exist at the time of the first Gulf War are now so fundamental to the conduct of military operations that it is difficult to imagine functioning without them. And the growth of the internet, social media, and now the “Internet of Things” represents a further stage in the information technology revolution whose full consequences are still unfolding. Nonetheless, some preliminary implications of such cyber capabilities for warfare are already clear.

First, cyberspace is itself now an entire new battlefield domain, adding to the existing domains of land, sea, air, subsea, and space. This reality has enormous ramifications for military doctrine, operations, organizational structures, training, materiel, leadership development, personnel requirements, and military facilities. Most significantly, it adds a powerful new element to the challenges of the simultaneous “multi-domain warfare” in which we are now already engaged and for which we need to do more to prepare in the future.

Second, cyber technology is adding another element to the already ongoing dispersion and fragmentation of global power. While no nation has contributed more to the growth of the internet and the digitized world than the United States (and no nation has developed more sophisticated cyber military capabilities), the nature of these technologies ultimately presents one more disruptive challenge to the preeminence that the U.S. has enjoyed since the end of the Cold War, as others exploit the potential of offensive cyber capabilities in new and increasingly sophisticated and diabolical ways. Examples of this include the use of cyberspace by extremist networks like ISIS and Al-Qaeda to inspire far-flung terrorist strikes; by Russia to wage ideological and political warfare that seeks to undermine the cohesion and self-confidence of the Western democracies; and by China to collect the technological know-how that is speeding its already rapid rise and undercutting America’s conventional military edge and industrial advantages.

Security in the century ahead will depend more on our moral imagination—and with it, the ability to develop concepts of restraint—than it will on amazing technological breakthroughs.

Third, cyber capabilities are further blurring the boundaries between wartime and peacetime, and between civilian and military spaces. These are distinctions that have, for various reasons, been eroding in recent decades and which technological developments are now accelerating. At present, it is likewise clear that offensive capabilities are outstripping defensive and retaliatory options. And as long as difficulties in identifying and attributing responsibility for cyberattacks persist, that reality is likely to undercut deterrence and encourage aggression in cyberspace.

Yet even as technological changes inspire us to speculate on the future of warfare, perhaps the most important insights about the implications of the cyber age can be gleaned from the past.

While technology promises to disrupt the conduct of war, it is equally important to recognize what it will not alter—namely, the causes of war, which continue to lie in the character of humanity. As Thucydides documented more than two millennia ago, it is the elemental forces of fear, honor, and interest that are the wellsprings of conflict, and it is often the choices of individual leaders that determine how conflicts develop. It was for this reason, in fact, that, when I was in uniform, I argued against the concept of “network-centric warfare”—put forward in the late 1990s—and instead contended that a better formulation would be “network-enabled, leadership-centric warfare.” It is, after all, still leaders who determine strategies and make the key decisions. And even as development of autonomous weapons systems and other such capabilities proceeds, parameters for actions by such systems will continue to be established by human beings.

Furthermore, history suggests that humanity’s capacity for technical innovation often outpaces our strategic thinking and development of ethical norms. Indeed, the methodical development of doctrine around nuclear weapons by the “Wizards of Armageddon” in the 1950s and 1960s, which did much to help prevent a nuclear apocalypse, appears to have been the exception rather than the norm. More typical is the experience of the European powers of the early 20th century, which failed to recognize that the mass industrialized armies they were constructing were the components of a doomsday machine that would unleash a civilizational slaughter that none of the combatants had previously considered possible. As we and other major powers race to develop cutting-edge cyber capabilities—expanding swiftly into realms such as robotics, bioengineering, and artificial intelligence—we would be wise to devote equal energy and attention to considering the full implications of our ingenuity. Security in the century ahead will depend more on our moral imagination—and with it, the ability to develop concepts of restraint—than it will on amazing technological breakthroughs.

This in turn suggests a final reality about warfare in the age of cyber. Regardless of the innovations that lie ahead, technology by itself will neither doom nor rescue the world. Responsibility for our fate, for better or worse, will remain stubbornly human.

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Is the Cyber Era the New Cold War?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/03/29/cyber-era-new-cold-war/ideas/nexus/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/03/29/cyber-era-new-cold-war/ideas/nexus/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:01:45 +0000 Peter W. Singer — Interview by Lisa Margonelli http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=84530 So-called cyberwarfare has blurred the boundaries of what war is, raising profound questions about how the U.S. should respond to attacks that occur online and in information networks. This was obvious in the hacking of the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election, which was then magnified by U.S. media attention. Still, the U.S. has yet to determine what happened or how to respond. According to Peter W. Singer, a strategist at the nonpartisan think tank New America and the author of several books on cyber conflict, the U.S. needs to act now, while the phenomenon is in its infancy, to establish norms of what is allowed and what is not. The one thing that’s clear about this new category of conflict is that it will not go away soon. 

On March 1, 2017, Singer testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee on what steps the country should

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So-called cyberwarfare has blurred the boundaries of what war is, raising profound questions about how the U.S. should respond to attacks that occur online and in information networks. This was obvious in the hacking of the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election, which was then magnified by U.S. media attention. Still, the U.S. has yet to determine what happened or how to respond. According to Peter W. Singer, a strategist at the nonpartisan think tank New America and the author of several books on cyber conflict, the U.S. needs to act now, while the phenomenon is in its infancy, to establish norms of what is allowed and what is not. The one thing that’s clear about this new category of conflict is that it will not go away soon. 

On March 1, 2017, Singer testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee on what steps the country should take to prepare to take on decades of cyber mischief and worse. 

Q: In your testimony to Congress on March 1 you said that the war now involving cyber is the inverse of the Cold War. Can you talk about what this means—the inverse of the Cold War—and what its implications are?

A: The argument that I was making was that there are apt parallels with the Cold War and also fundamental differences. An apt parallel would be that, contrary to the visions of cyberwar in movies and in D.C. policy circles of power grids going down in a fiery “cyber Pearl Harbor,” what we are seeing is a competition more akin to the Cold War’s pre-digital battles, where you saw a cross between influence and subversion operations with espionage. That’s particularly true with what Russia has been up to.

This means we need to take new approaches to deterrence, reflecting the dual goal of both preventing an ongoing conflict from escalating, but also responding and better defending ourselves.

Yet, there are also fundamental differences with the Cold War, particularly in how we establish what the norms are. If you go back to the Cold War, everyone was concerned with just one kind of attack, a nuclear one. It was very clear whether it happened or not, and it was very clear who would be behind it. In contrast, now we have multiple different types of cyberattacks, with goals ranging from stealing information to blocking information to changing information. The attribution problem is fundamentally different, not just who did the attack, but even your awareness that you are under attack. There is not a clear cloud of smoke coming after the missiles launch, so we often don’t even know when a cyberattack has occurred.

But also some of the normative questions are different. In the Cold War we were weirdly okay with the Soviets targeting everything from a missile base to a city, but it was known they couldn’t actually cross the line and conduct the attack. If you hit anything, war is on.

In contrast, in cyber conflict, we’re not going to stop all types of cyberattacks, but there are some types of targets that we all have to agree to keep off the table. So stealing information from each other is something that states have always done, throughout history, and now they’re just doing it through digital means. So it’s okay if you steal information, weirdly enough, from one of our government agencies. We may not like it, but that’s within the rules of the game. So for example, the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) breach—which reportedly originated in China—is a not story of “shame on them” but “shame on us” for not securing the information better.

… we need to take new approaches to deterrence, reflecting the dual goal of both preventing an ongoing conflict from escalating, but also responding and better defending ourselves.

On the other hand, we may say stealing information from a private business violates the rules of international trade. So if you’re stealing a design from a car company and then copying and building that car, that’s a violation of the rules of that game.

Or, a new kind of norm might be that there are some types of targets that are off the table because they’re too clearly escalatory, or too prone to confusion and mistakes. So don’t go monkeying around with nuclear power plant control systems. The consequences of us finding you, or you making a mistake, are too great. That target should be off the table completely.

Q: What you’re describing is a free for all. These norms you’re talking about are counterintuitive and weird.

A: They may have once been weird, but they are now the new normal. If you go back in time to the Cold War, the very idea of Russia directly influencing the U.S. political system and that then a substantial portion of the government, including the president himself, would just shrug it off? They’d have said it sounds like the plot of that movie starring Frank Sinatra, The Manchurian Candidate. That’s absurd! But yet, that is exactly what is happening now.

Look, we’re down the rabbit hole in a lot of different ways. But again, there are fundamental lessons we should be following. As an example, if you want to establish deterrence, if you want to build norms, then clearly what threatens to undermine your position is inaction when an adversary clearly violates those norms.

Q: The timeline for reaction during the Cold War was the time the missile was in the air. Now, potentially, we don’t know when the breach happens, but we have an infinite amount of time to respond.

A: Yes, the timeline is extended out in both directions. Much of Cold War deterrent strategy was determined basically by physics, the roughly 30-minute window that it took a ballistic missile to arc across the globe and hit another continent. We had to be able to prove that we could hit that missile within that window. Proving that it could be done deterred the other side from a preemptive strike.

In contrast, in this space, in the corporate sector the average time between when a victim is attacked and when they know they’ve been attacked is between 160 to 205 days, depending on the study.

But today your ability to respond doesn’t have to happen within that window. It also doesn’t even have to be a like response. Today, if you cyberattack me, I can respond either through cyber means or I could use all of my other tools of power to find your leverage points.

Cyber hygiene won’t solve everything, but … if we raise our game, if we don’t click that link we ought not to, we make the attacker’s job so much harder. We make it so much more difficult for them to succeed.

As an example: Russia. I would argue that their pressure points are a rickety economy with oligarchic structures. It’s the 13th largest economy in the world and falling. So go after that.

You also have to keep in mind that you’re setting examples that everyone else is going to watch. That is again another of these downsides to us just looking the other way to arguably what is the most important cyberattack in history. And I don’t say that lightly.

By looking away, by not responding, to the Russia campaign against our election, we are telling Russia, “Hey, this works for you.” And as we can see they’ve moved on to similar tactics against our allies, with examples ranging from Great Britain to Norway to the current elections in France, Germany, and the Netherlands. But also, in addition to Russia, other actors out there are watching and learning. One of the underlying lessons of deterrence is that it’s not about punishment for punishment’s sake, it’s about influencing the other actors.

Q: Are we coming to a place where we define cyberattacks as war?

A: I’d put it this way: “cyberwar” is as abused a term as “war” is. We use war to describe everything from a state of armed conflict between nations, like World War II, to a state of strategic competition between nations that never turns to outright conflict, like the Cold War, to political campaigns against everything from poverty to sugar.

I don’t like to use the term cyberwar unless you’re talking about the classic definition of a state of armed conflict where there is actual violence, in which the internet is used not just to steal information but to conduct attacks that would have physical damage. That’s what we’re talking about in war.

But where I especially don’t like to see it is when people say, “Oh, the OPM breach, that was an act of war.” No, no it wasn’t. It was stealing information. Nations have always stolen information. No nation has ever gone to war over stealing information.

Others will say, “It’s a facility breach, North Korea conducted an act of war!” No, they attacked Sony, they outed its secrets but it’s not in the same category as when North Korean troops murdered, in plain sight, U.S. troops with axes in the 1970s and we didn’t go to war with them over that. And you’re saying that we would go to war over the fact that now we can read Angelina Jolie’s emails? We need to be precise in what we talk about, what we care about, and what we’re trying to stop.

Russia is far more successful than they ever dreamed would be possible back in the Cold War.

Q: You’ve mentioned that hacking is an entry point to hearts and minds. In the past, the sphere of attack was mostly governments. But this is now something that individuals feel and that individuals have the ability to respond.

A: Yeah, I think you’re combining two different things there. The argument back in the Cold War was that the individual was not the target and had no great ability to contribute to the defense. No matter how hard you tried, you were not going to be able to dig a good enough bomb shelter in your backyard that would mean that Russia would count it as a reason not to attack.

In cybersecurity, there’s a lot going on, but individuals matter. They are often what are being attacked and, importantly, can undertake a set of cyber hygiene measures that will go an incredibly long way to preventing, deterring and discouraging those attacks.

Cyber hygiene won’t solve everything, but—whether we’re talking about political leaders, army officers or someone working at a furniture company—if we raise our game, if we don’t click that link we ought not to, we make the attacker’s job so much harder. We make it so much more difficult for them to succeed.

This is a space where you can build what’s called deterrence by denial or resilience. This is different but related to what you were asking about. During the Cold War, nations tried to subvert and undermine the politics and culture of their adversaries. We’re seeing that play out today, but through digital means. Russia is far more successful than they ever dreamed would be possible back in the Cold War. Sometimes it’s overt on social media, and other times there is a link to the cybersecurity side. So the cyberattacks and the influence operations are related but different.

To give an illustration related to campaigns: Political campaigns have long been targeted by hackers. In the 2008 and 2012 elections, the Obama, McCain, and Romney campaigns were all targeted by foreign state actors that wanted to penetrate and gain insights into what these campaigns and, more importantly, the people who were in them and were going to move into government, were thinking about policy. That’s always happened.

The difference in 2016 is that instead of merely just stealing the secrets, they were then exposed in a way that was designed to embarrass the target. The DNC breach had less in common with the OPM breach than it did with, for example, the Ashley Madison and Sony breaches. The hack was not to steal, the hack was to influence others.

So what are things we can do? They range from setting up better means to defend our elections, not just the voting machines as usually is talked about, but the political organizations that were actually the target. And learn from the past. Back in the Cold War, they created a group to respond to Soviet information warfare called the Active Measures Working Group. It was an interagency group that essentially identified Russian misinformation campaigns so that we could then respond to them. The Soviet Union, for example, was spreading false stories like we were using the 1984 Olympic Games as a way to secretly spread AIDS and stuff like that. We need a similar entity right now that can identify those misinformation campaigns online, out them, and allow us to respond to them.

Such an effort would be important not just in dealing with what Russia is doing, but it will also debunk the activity of what in Russian translates as ‘useful idiots’—aka people inside our own society, who are happy to spread lies and misinformation.

The media needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. I think it’s fascinating to compare how the media handled the Ashley Madison breach with how it handled the Sony and DNC breaches.

But it also involves actors outside of government, who have to take a long and hard look at themselves. That is everything from the social media companies that need to understand that their platforms are being used to take advantage of their customers. We’ve seen bot campaigns that swing from target to target, from trying to influence the Brexit Campaign to trying to influence American voters. Obviously the social media company can respond.

Also, the media needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. I think it’s fascinating to compare how the media handled the Ashley Madison breach with how it handled the Sony and DNC breaches. Ashley Madison was about people cheating on their spouses. For the most part, the media reported the breaches but not the fruits of the crime, the individuals and what they were doing.

But when it came to Sony and the DNC the media reported the breach as well as the fruits of the crime. You could say that these two incidents involved people of public interest. Sorry! There were people like that in the Ashley Madison set, too. “But Sony involved a state actor!” Oh, because it was a foreign government influence operation, you played a role in spreading the information they got?

If the media says these things get reported case by case, then they’re being inconsistent. My point is that this isn’t only a government issue.

Q: It really does seem to me that what’s different here is the role of individuals to prevent, or foil, these attacks by exercising internet hygiene or not forwarding Facebook posts that look like trash.

A: Exactly, it also goes all the way to the individual. Am I going to play a role in poisoning the system further? And this includes learning to be more discerning. Just because it’s on Facebook doesn’t make it true.

Q: You’ve talked about punishment, having an anti-propaganda agency, but you’ve also talked about a kind of CDC that looks at breaches, reinforcing standards and metrics, offering bug bounties, and other things. Do you have a favorite in there?

A: No, because we need a wide array of activities. I think that there’s a feeling of helplessness, what can we do? Actually, there’s a set of identifiable actions we can do. And, importantly, as my testimony laid out, they’re non- or bipartisan. This doesn’t have to be a R vs. D space. To give an example, during the Obama Administration, a report identified the best practices in the private sector that could be brought into government. Now that we have a Republican president and Congress, they could adopt these suggestions. Ideas from business to aid government is a very Republican theme, so use them. Alternatively, being strong on national defense and deterrence and standing up to Moscow is in the very pedigree of the party of Reagan and Eisenhower. So, do it and be within your own party’s best traditions. The point is that there are a range of things we can and should be doing. History, however, is going to judge us on whether we act or not.

Q: Why won’t they act? Why hasn’t there been more action?

A: Good question.

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The Cyber Age Demands a New Understanding of War—but We’d Better Hurryhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/03/29/cyber-age-demands-new-understanding-war-wed-better-hurry/ideas/nexus/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/03/29/cyber-age-demands-new-understanding-war-wed-better-hurry/ideas/nexus/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:01:15 +0000 By James Der Derian http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=84503 It seems highly reckless to prod into flight Hegel’s Owl of Minerva—the goddess of wisdom and war—for an assessment of war in a cyber age that is barely 30 years old.

You will not find it in the Oxford English Dictionary, but “cyberwar” made its first inauspicious appearance in 1987 when an anonymous editor from Omni—Bob Guccione’s other magazine—attached the neologism as a title for an article by Owen Davies, an Omni editor. Although he never used the word or developed the idea of cyberwar, Davies pretty much nailed the coming of robotic warfare.

But something was in the air. In 1987 and avant la lettre, cyberwar in the narrow sense of an attack by malicious code on a computer system, communications network, or critical infrastructure, had a more plausible debut as the “Jerusalem virus” aka the “PLO virus,” a logic bomb that would pop up on

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It seems highly reckless to prod into flight Hegel’s Owl of Minerva—the goddess of wisdom and war—for an assessment of war in a cyber age that is barely 30 years old.

You will not find it in the Oxford English Dictionary, but “cyberwar” made its first inauspicious appearance in 1987 when an anonymous editor from OmniBob Guccione’s other magazine—attached the neologism as a title for an article by Owen Davies, an Omni editor. Although he never used the word or developed the idea of cyberwar, Davies pretty much nailed the coming of robotic warfare.

But something was in the air. In 1987 and avant la lettre, cyberwar in the narrow sense of an attack by malicious code on a computer system, communications network, or critical infrastructure, had a more plausible debut as the “Jerusalem virus” aka the “PLO virus,” a logic bomb that would pop up on any given Friday the 13th. Top that, Jason.

The next recorded use of “cyberwar” was in 1991. A young academic steeped in too much William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, after watching way too much of the 24/7 coverage of the first Iraq war, delivered a paper at the Second Annual Cyberspace Conference in Santa Cruz California: “Cyberwar, Videogames and the Gulf War.” Shortly afterward he was asked by the short-lived PBS television show Late City to distill the 100-hour TV war into a two-minute video buzz clip (set to Sweet Bird of Truth by The The). He gave the concept its first definition: “a new virtual and consensual reality, the first cyberwar, in the sense of a technologically generated, televisually linked and strategically gamed form of violence.”

Both were promptly forgotten. I took some solace in Nietzsche, who said only that which has no history can be defined.

But then history responded with a vengeance: Just about every major war since Iraq had a cyber edge to it. To be sure, acts of primal if not always organized violence would continue—all too often in the name of creation myths that would not be out of place in the Stone or Bronze ages—on a daily basis by and against tribes, nations, and superpowers.

Many of these acts of organized violence continue to fit the classical definitions presented early in the 19th century by the Prussian Carl von Clausewitz, who variously defined war as a duel on a larger scale, a forceful act to compel others to do our will, and a continuation of politics by other means. The contemporary landscape of world politics is littered with casus belli that would not be unfamiliar to Clausewitz, or for that matter, to his eminent precursors like Machiavelli and Hobbes, who identified wars of gain (produced by imperial, economic, and military struggles for dominance), wars of fear (prompted by perceptions of a rising power or threatening evil), and wars of doctrine (caused by the clash of monolithic faiths and universalist ideologies).

But Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other non- and wannabe-state actors keep crashing the Westphalian system. Today’s new warriors intent on challenging the state’s monopoly on violence—like the insurgent, jihadist, or private militia—are not that far removed from their earlier counterparts, like the pirate, mercenary, and holy crusader. Even the guerre du jour of “hybrid war,” the corrosive mix of private criminality, public bellicosity, and authoritarian politics that scars the residual borders of the Cold War, has more than a hint of the medieval in the interplay of overlapping sovereignties, polymorphous combatants, and clashing cosmologies.

As everything and everyone becomes connected, it’s very hard to confine cyberwar to a discrete place or bounded time. A few clicks, several thousand shares, and an incident escalates from a local to regional to international crisis.

As long as global violence remains a viable, sometimes the only option in the face of intractable political differences, social injustices, and cultural struggles for recognition, war in one form or another will find a way. States, democratic or not, might be less inclined to initiate violence, but non-, para-, and anti-state actors have proven to be willing as well as able to use networked technology to wage asymmetric warfare—which in turn prompts over-reactions by states and furthers cycles of mimetic violence.

Classical war persists, as does the effort by new actors to offset disadvantages through new technologies. Even Clausewitz, ever the dialectician, acknowledged that “every age had its own peculiar forms of war, its own restrictive conditions, and its own prejudices.”

What is most peculiar about war in a “cyber age?” Depending on whether one goes back to the Greek (kubernētēs or “steersman”), Norbert Weiner (“cybernetics,” 1948), or William Gibson (“cyberspace,” 1984), “cyber” suggests everything from a control system with a feedback capacity, to a technologically-induced consensual hallucination, to a 400-pound hacker (pace Trump) subverting the U.S. elections.

Dating the cyber age is no easier. Someday archeologists will sift through the ruins of Bell Labs, find wire etchings in germanium and silicon and declare 1947, give or take a year, as point zero, from which microprocessors, packet switches, and fiber optics as well as digital code, information theory, and networked systems soon followed.

However, science will not capture the ghost in the machine. For that, we best go back to the originating myths. Cyber is, literally, as old as the Bible and other holy texts in which gods “steer” or “govern” the universe. In the Judeo-Christian version, those “who have no direction (kubernēsis) fall like leaves” (Proverbs 11:14); those who prosper understand that “with strategic planning (meta kubernēseōs) war is conducted” (Proverbs 24:6). Leaping a millennia or two forward, our techno-deities might not be as omniscient or omnipotent as past gods; but, weaponized and sanctioned by national security, they deter, disrupt, and if necessary destroy our enemies with relative impunity to us. Obama got religion, ordering 10 times the number of drone attacks executed by Bush; barely two months in office, President Trump increased them by another 432% over Obama.

Perhaps the most peculiar characteristic of war in a cyber age is how well it resists the traditional restrictions of warfare. As everything and everyone becomes connected, it’s very hard to confine cyberwar to a discrete place or bounded time. A few clicks, several thousand shares, and an incident escalates from a local to regional to international crisis. This is the force-multiplier effect of the cyber age, with 9/11 as the most seminal and inspirational example. Access to the internet and flight simulators made it possible for Osama bin Laden and 19 kamikaze fanatics to topple the World Trade Center, hit the Pentagon, kill nearly 3,000 people, and cause billions of dollars in damages (trillions if we include second-order effects, like the Iraq War and the rise of ISIS).

If there is a prejudice to war in the cyber age, it can be found in the conceit that virtualization makes war more virtuous. Rather than resorting to the convention of bombs, the United States and Israel inserted the Stuxnet virus to degrade the Iranian nuclear weapon program; no matter that the virus proved to be less than a precise munition and rapidly spread to non-targeted industrial platforms. Wikileaks hacked thousands of embassy cables to make U.S. diplomacy more transparent and democratic; no matter the collateral damage done to alliances and coalition efforts to restrain anti-democratic regimes. Drones pursue a cleaner kill; no matter the virtual terror induced upon whole populations.

Thirty years on, I think it is safe to say that we have not seen the worst of war in the cyber age. With so many networked actors operating simultaneously across multiple levels of power, prediction, pre-emption, or restriction of cyberwar is exceptionally difficult. Distinguishing intentional from accidental acts is hard. Knock-on effects will grow.

The cyber advantage might now go to the most technologically advanced powers, but the law of uneven development gives latecomers the edge. Which is why we should be asking now, before rather than after the Owl of Minerva takes flight at dusk, what war will look like in the quantum age.

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