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July 16, 2007


Michael Hickins

Immigration reform is just one of many apparently contentious issues that we need to deal with more dispassionately than we do, and to see more than one side of complex issues. Ironically, it seems that technology, from radio to the Internet, has abetted passionate, one-sided argument rather than supporting balanced discourse. Beyond better leadership, do you have ideas for using technology to help achieve a more "optimistic" outcome?

Well Wisher

A very profound thought! - Nihilism V/s Optimism. When I read the blog I was very impressed with the characterization. But then whenI started reflecting on it I realized that this conflict had raged since pandora opened the forbidden box. Nihilism sponsors can take many forms.The impact of Nihilism on the world and society at large increases when the sponsors grow from individual to groups and so on .. to nation states and groups of nation states.

At an individual level you have Virginia Tech; At a group level many terrorist outfits operating many parts of the world; At a nation state level, we had Serbia and Germany playing the sponsor during the World War times.

You may notice a pattern between these sponsors - they are obsessed with the opinion they have; they are obsessed with their interests alone; they believe that force can help them meet their ends. Bin Laden and people who tried to plant bombs in Car in london recently were exactly like this.

Now, lets look at Iraq war indulgence...unilateral entry (No UN), false premise (WMD), Situation that led to mass killing of civilian iraqis...continued feeling that force will help serve the cause...Sounds familiar...Nihilism ???

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

I think technology is only a means to an end, that can be used by the "nihilists" as well as the "optimists" or serious problem solvers. The key, without a doubt is better leadership.

Perhaps the big change is that in today's global world the leadership has to be both local and global in nature at the same time, which perhaps makes it harder.

The "nihilist" side only has to appeal to their narrow partisans. Perhaps the challenge for the "optimist" side is to appeal to the best of human nature - again, much easier said than done.

Wise governments are critical. As we are seeing with Iraq, one sided actions in today's world can have very unfortunate consequences.


Very good thought. It is disappointing to see that there was so much scientific/technological development over the last century, and yet hatred and conflicts among us humans just kept growing.

We should keep in mind that these cold-blooded people who bomb innocent civilians are actually human beings - What have driven these people to act like these? What are the root causes?

I'm not trying to give any "nihilist" excuses. It's just that people tend to look at the current cultural clashes in a way that divide people, and I don't think this is the solution to the situation. We need to find solutions that do not label people and create more hatred, but change people mindset and hearts from within.

David Locke

Guerilla wars do work. They work because of the reaction of the goverment. The goverment clamps down on all citizens. Thus, the citizens come to support the guerillas.

As such, terrorism is just a lower intensity conflict with the same purpose. Our goverment has taken away civil liberties for certain classes of people, not just terrorists. And, the laws will apply to others, not jut terrorists once terrorism has disappeared from the scene. This is a historical pattern within the U.S. Terrorism has worked in the U.S. It is working. It is destroying the American way of life.

The police describe drive-by shootings as random shootings. They are not random. They are orchistrated to get citizens off the streets, so a gang can come in and own those very streets. Yes, the victim is random, but the shooting is not.

The difference between killing a civilian or a soldier is clear. The death of a civilian outweighs that of the death of a soldier.

911 demonstrates this. Less than 3000 civilian deaths has given rise to quite a few more than 3000 soldier deaths.

So who better to kill than civilians.

If this were Judo, it would be clear that you have to minimize the energies you direct towards your enemies.

I don't know that hopelessness motivates the guerilla or the terrorist. There is the hope of bringing an empire to its knees in the David vs. Goliath scenario.

Unfortunately, because of the reactions of Goliath, Goliath is falling. Goliath won't see it until they look back.

Given Vietnam and the lessons we were supposed to learn their, and those lessons not being consistent with the decisionmakers preferences, the lessons were forgotten.

We have never won a Guerilla war. Until we do, we have no hope of winning a Terrorist war.

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