War in the era of big tech

Any history buff will often say, “If only the generals had the information!” many times over.

“One if by land, two if by sea” and the midnight ride of Paul Revere and the lesser-known Sybil Ludington shows the importance of intelligence collected and communicated by civilians.


The war in Ukraine is being fought in a new age of cell phones, Google, TikTok and Facebook.


**We Have Never Been Here Before**
**by Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, Feb. 25, 2022**

**Our world is not going to be the same again because this war has no historical parallel. It is a raw, 18th-century-style land grab by a superpower — but in a 21st-century globalized world. This is the first war that will be covered on TikTok by super-empowered individuals armed only with smartphones, so acts of brutality will be documented and broadcast worldwide without any editors or filters. On the first day of the war, we saw invading Russian tank units unexpectedly being exposed by Google maps, because Google wanted to alert drivers that the Russian armor was causing traffic jams....**

**Welcome to World War Wired — the first war in a totally interconnected world. This will be the Cossacks meet the World Wide Web....Everyone in Russia will be able to watch. As this war unfolds on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Putin cannot closet his Russian population — let alone the rest of the world — from the horrific images that will come out of this war as it enters its urban phase. ...**

**Thanks to rapid globalization, the E.U. is already Ukraine’s biggest trading partner — not Russia...Russia’s share of Ukrainian exports has fallen to only 7.7 percent, while the E.U.’s share shot up to 42.6 percent.** [end quote]

This is an excellent article but copyright rules prevent me from copying more of it.

Mr. Friedman makes other excellent observations.

  1. If Poland shuts its borders to Russian trucks the only land route for Russian trade with the EU goes through…Ukraine.

  2. China’s economy is more dependent on Ukraine than Russia’s. China was Ukraine’s biggest single trading partner in 2019, importing a lot of grain.

War in the era of big tech is completely different. Information is instantly video recorded on the spot and uploaded to the WWW. Citizens can organize themselves into military resistance.

DH and I had a disagreement this morning. I admire the courage of President Zelensky. I think his encouragement of the Ukrainians to resistance is critically important despite his fear that the Russians will target him and his family. The situation would be different if Zelensky bugged out to Paris after handing the government over to a Russian puppet. DH disagrees and feels that the Ukrainians would fight the Russians regardless.

Whatever the result, there’s no question that Russia will use their accustomed brutality in quashing Ukrainian resistance. Will the Ukrainians be as tough as, say, the Afghans? Only time will tell.


Whatever the result, there’s no question that Russia will use their accustomed brutality in quashing Ukrainian resistance. Will the Ukrainians be as tough as, say, the Afghans? Only time will tell.

I have come to a theory. The more ‘non-structured’ a populace, the more difficult to subdue.

Afghan society is completely non-structured. Their day to day are multiple war lords across very rough terrain. More powerful WL’s to be sure, and other tribes aligning with them, but no nice clean organization ala a Germany or a Japan or a Ukraine…

Combatting the non-structured, you can keep pounding away, knocking some out here, some there, but in the big picture, they have nothing to lose and they just keep coming at you. Kind of like battling ants or roaches out in the open, if you can’t find and destroy ALL their hiding places, it is a never ending effort. You can punch away all you want and it will ‘never’ end.

The set up in Ukraine is more like any other western country. If Vlad finds and ‘eliminates’ the existing folks who are governing, he will subdue them, at least for the time being. Back to square one, in the days when Reagan challenged: “Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL”. And it will take a while. Lots more blood, lots more treasure, likely another generation lost. Effort needs to be made now to see that doesn’t happen. Not sure we have the right people in charge to take care of business. Sad.


Will the Ukrainians be as tough as, say, the Afghans?

Like the Afghans, the VC had nowhere to go. South Vietnam was their home.



I went to my seldom used Twitter account yesterday, thrown there by some post on Facebook, I think. I was surprised by how many posts there were in support of Russia invading Ukraine, talking about how Ukraine was responsible, or how the US was responsible, noting that many US politicians and talk show hosts were supporting Russia (thank you Tucker), and so on.

I guess I’m a little slow on the uptake, but eventually I realized “Oh, the Russian bot farms are busy today” and they were. Expect as much disinformation as information, possibly more, and figure that the Russians have been at this game longer and harder than we have, so I would give extra-credibility to established news organizations. Not that they will be perfect, either, but at least I’m fairly confident of who they are and what their motives are.