When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

June 18, 2004

More on the Paradigm Shift

Bravo Romeo Delta

Sorry that I'm still relatively free of Big Important Thoughts, but this did grab my attention.

"In the mid-1990s, Mohammed was based in the Philippines and was a key figure in the so-called ‘‘Bojinka’’ plot to blow up 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific. The plot fell apart when the Philippine authorities discovered the bomb-making equipment in January 1995.

Mohammed told his U.S. interrogators that in 1996 he pitched several ideas to bin Laden to attack the United States, including a ‘‘scaled-up’’ version of the Sept. 11 attacks, the report says.

The U.S.-based part involved suicide hijackers, 10 planes and targets on both coasts. The second part was a revived and modified version of the Bojinka plot, the report says.

‘‘Operatives would hijack U.S. commercial planes flying Pacific routes from Southeast Asia and explode them in midair instead of crashing them into particular targets,’’ the report says. ‘‘An alternate scenario,’’ according to Mohammed’s account as told in the report, ‘‘involved flying planes into U.S. targets in Japan, Singapore or Korea.’’

In a previous post, I wrote about the War on Terror being an Out of Context Problem. Amongst other things, I noted:

"People seem to forget that a plot to hijack 10 trans-Pacific airliners and crash them into the ocean (which would yield ~4,000 dead) was foiled in the late 1990's. No one apparently remembers that an Algerian plot to fly a plane into the Eiffel Tower was also stopped some years ago.

But the point is that the folks who are busy pillorying anything with in arms reach, the fundamental point is that the problem was literally unforseeable. If one looks at the evidence of the world prior to 9/11, and successfully projected forward from the data available in 1996, then we would be in a world in which Afghanistan was invaded appropos of nothing in 1997, and scissors were banned on aircraft starting shortly after Clinton's reelection.

Given the flak over Iraq, do you think that either one of those would have been possible without creating a perfect storm of criticism?

* "... presents an Out-of-Context Problem ... something so wildly out of [one's] experience that countermeasures are unthinkable." (Link)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at June 18, 2004 08:32 PM

Retaliatiory Launches

I am thinking in, in relation to some of my notions about "Demosophia" (wisdom of the people) or "Liberalism 3.x," that it's at least conceivable that we might construct a systematic approach that rules out the possibility of "out of context problems." I haven't thought this through completely, but it seems to me that the problem here is related, simply, to human cognition. And there are various means of compensating for the limitations of human cognition, provided that we assess its limitations systematically.

Toward the middle of the twentieth century Bucky Fuller wrote a number of conceptual essays related to this topic, and the one that's most impressive is something called the "omni-directional halo." The basic idea has to do with:

1. Expanding, slightly, the number of relevant dimensions from 2 to 3 in the presentation of data, and

2. The recognition of slightly overlapping domains that signify relevance.

So the "halo," occurs at the boundary between "the barely relevant" and the "irrelevant and empirically ignorant" realms of human cognition.

The contention is that if we approach these realms systematically, and with sufficient dimensionality, we can develop theories that forewarn us about developing patterns, before they become profoundly relevant.

And, of course, if that's possible we can also begin to develop counter-measures before the point of no-return.

For more on the specific cognitive limitations of the human species, I suggest: Beauty: The Value of Values. It's philosophy, but it's pragmatically grounded philosophy.

Posted by: Scott at June 19, 2004 07:52 PM

free hit counter