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A government agent on every corner, a wiretap on every phone

January 25, 2011
Santiago, Chile

US General George S. Patton is often credited with saying “No poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.” Perhaps Patton was correct. But a lot of poor bastards had a significant impact on security policies by blowing themselves up for their cause.

Yesterday’s suicide attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow was another stark reminder that there are people in this world who have (a) extreme commitment to their cause; (b) the will to die for their beliefs; and (c) the twisted moral compass to justify the deaths of others as necessary and legitimate.

These three ingredients are a dangerous combination, and unfortunately they exist in mass quantities among fanatics who have lost sight of their humanity.

I don’t want to get into the chicken or egg argument right now about whether such fanaticism would exist without authoritarian, imperialistic arrogance on the part of major world governments… but suffice it to say that, with each attack on civilian targets, governments step up their military/police efforts in the ‘war on terror.’

It’s interesting how government defense planners always seem to be training their troops to fight the last war. For example, the WW2-style training in the US that lasted for decades which prepared troops to fight against Soviet forces proved largely irrelevant in the jungle warfare environment of Vietnam, or the desert in Kuwait.

Subsequent jungle warfare and traditional desert warfare training proved largely irrelevant in the 1990s peacekeeping operations in the Balkans, and training for peacekeeping operations proved largely irrelevant for Iraq’s counterinsurgency operations.

As the military now focuses its training on preparing troops for yesterday’s counterinsurgency operations, I suspect defense planners are largely ignoring tomorrow’s threats, like cyber- and economic warfare.

Similarly, every time there is an attack on civilian targets, governments come out in force against the threat. When someone tries to explode his shoe, everyone has to take his/her shoes off. When someone tries to explode his underwear, everyone has to go through a body scanner.

The Russian bombing yesterday proved that these reactive tactics are completely ineffective, akin to training to fight the last war.

Soft targets are everywhere, and if government agencies make it too difficult to blow up a plane, attackers will blow up the airport. If they can’t blow up an airport, they’ll blow up a bus station… sports stadium… grocery store… you name it.

Each reactive policy measure only serves to solidify the attackers’ convictions, erode the freedoms of the innocents, and divide the nation into to distinct sides– those who would rather have their freedom and take a chance on safety, and those who are willing to relinquish their freedom in exchange for the illusion of security.

Politicians will always side with the latter, expanding their domain and redefining ‘security’ so that it encompasses the widest possible range of human activities.

Going to a ball game? Security. A nightclub? Security. No more financial privacy? It’s for your security. Listening to your phone calls? Also for your security. Protesting against the politicians? You’re a security risk. 90-year old woman in a wheelchair? Frisk her, she’s a security risk. “Attention WalMart shoppers: rat out your neighbor.” – Homeland Security.

These measures are all readily accepted by society because voters will ask for, and allow, these types of politicians and policies.

After the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis in Russia in which hundreds of hostages and children were killed, the Russian government vastly expanded the powers of its law enforcement agencies, asserted its control over the media, and even unilaterally replaced certain elected federal positions with executive appointees.

Russian society digested these measures in stride, still shocked from the massacre in Beslan.

In response to Monday’s bombing, officials in Russia are already talking about enhancing their security procedures, which will certainly include new government powers. I also doubt that the effects will stop with Russia’s security posture.

The Chinese government already reacted by beefing up security at Beijing’s airport, deploying more police dogs throughout the terminals. I wouldn’t be surprised if governments in North America and Europe used this event as an excuse to initiate their own measures, going further down the slippery slope.

None of these steps really matter in the big picture; loosely organized suicide bombers cannot be subdued with conventional forces or security measures… and for the regular folks who just want to go on living their lives, it’s like being caught in the middle of a battlefield without a weapon.

I’m reminded of Herbert Hoover’s 1928 winning presidential campaign slogan, “A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage.” Perhaps the modern analogy is “a government agent on every corner, a wiretap on every phone.” It is, after all, for our security.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Michael Mathews

    As a frequent flier, I could not agree more with this post. I dread what may come next. I can barely tolerate “security” as it is.

  • Charrington

    You do realize that the last 3 times this happened in Russia it was state sponsored right? That is the real issue – it’s not that terrorists want to cause fear it’s who the terrorists really are.
    States (including the US) fund organizations that will inflict terrorism on their own countries so that they may up the fear factor and say “See we told you so” Now we’ll need to sexually abuse you at airports. People need to wake up.

  • H4890

    So true. The challenge is what to do? I suspect that as you say, there will be more and more “security” and less and less freedom all over the world, so where do I go in the end?

    My recipe for countering terrorism is to dismount all security. Let the people who are afraid stay at home all their lives, and let the rest of us travel the world without security checks every 5 minutes.

    I need to get rich fast, so I can start a country without security.

    • Guest

      really….. thats your idea….

    • Ed Irvin

      You hit the nail on the head. We gotta start somewhere or we’ll all become Zombies not humans.

  • Outta Here

    “Perhaps the modern analogy is ‘a government agent on every corner, a wiretap on every phone.’”

    Welcome to East Berlin, between 1961 and 1990… and yes, that’s what the west is coming to.

  • flanagle

    Welcome to the USSA. (United Security States of Anxiety).

  • flipspiceland

    Since only impotent citizens are targeted one wonders who perpetrates these acts of terrorism.

    They couldn’t be the acts of those who, like Charrington writes below, have the most to gain from increased ‘security’ measures, a terrorism of its own peculiar kind, could it?

  • Thomas Veil

    “a government agent on every corner, a wiretap on every phone.’” Many innocent Americans are claiming to be group-stalked and electronically harrassed by the government. There is a billboard in Wisconsin alerting the public. Check out The technology does exist. Other terms include Gaslighting, gangstalking, community-based harrassment and Multistalking. Its the Global elephant in the room most don’t want to talk about.

    • franklovesfl

      I get you have tin foil hats on right now

  • newbie

    So what’s the solution?

  • j.j.

    hagbard celine’s first law: national security is the chief cause of national insecurity

    security measures will be heightened until either 1) everyone is spying on everyone else, or 2) the funding runs out

    im hoping for 2

    j.j. from pittsburgh

  • Michael

    Cyber warfare you say. Well here is a little known occurrence (since it involves an “enemy”, but these Siemens systems are in most nuclear plants around the world (considering there is only one other solution available). So whomever has that weapon is getting ready.

  • Darren

    One of the realities of guerrilla warfare is that it takes many more men to defend than to go on the offensive. The defender must secure everything, the attacker only needs to be strong at the points he chooses to attack. Under a terrorist scenario this principle is magnified in favor of the terrorists & the govt can’t secure everything. That’s how a handful of terrorists can tie up a mighty govt. Bottom line, all the repressive measures in the world won’t win this for the govt.

  • LeChat

    Ultimately the security people will come to be regarded as enemies of the general populace.

    • metoo

      And then it will be too late.

  • hp

    As there are also people ready, willing and able to use these maximum malcontents as a cover for their own dirty deeds which are actually dirtier due to their implementation by cowards.

  • Peter Davis

    It’s amazing the excuses governments will use to consolidate power, all under the auspices of “security”. I have an ongoing argument with a friend of mine, who simply refuses to acknowledge that such a thing is happening here in the good ole US of A. He seems to think that Obama is the second coming of Jesus and would never dare do such a thing.

    He believes that if the government ever dared do such things, most Americans would be smart enough to sniff it out. I’m more on the side of Dennis Miller, who said that “99% of Americans are f—— total morons.”

    Christ, I think I need a drink.

  • Reveal Them All

    They are all a bunch of bloddy agents, ask Julius Malema the political load mouth from South Africa.

  • Jimthediver

    If TSA had any brains they’d already be using the bomb dogs instead of those full-body scanners. Dogs are cheap to feed, they don.t miss, and, hey Simon, they’re NOT “police dogs”. They don’t attack anyone they just happily announce the presence of explosives.

  • Joseflores185

    You can spy on me all you want I just enjoy time with my family and like to get high ill never take any body s freedom cause I value it as my load s inspanish automatically no matter how many times I change it wtf maybe cause I’m Mexican what’s up with that

  • Cincidak

    Do you think that the current trading of “Freedom for security”is truly a coincidence?It isn’t…..and it is only going to get worse,regardless of our actions to stop it.

  • KRT

    Simon said it best, when he said that security is an “illusion”.

  • Johnlawrance

    Why not a camera in every-ones house?

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