The First Cyber War | The Gulf War Did Not Take Place
Technological progress has irreversibly changed the very surface of the earth as well as the minds of we who walk on it. However any invention, no matter the intentions of the inventor, comes into the world with a shadow; the fatal flip side of a new kind of accident: the luxury steamliner, stock exchanges, Uber Eats. Each one of them the forward face of crashes, meltdowns, fatalities.
There's this old idea that technological progress is unequivocally good, forgetting that with each invention we've also invented accidents without antecedents. Somewhat accidentally, we've become the agents of totalized, globalized, surveillance vision. We map and monitor each other with military precision quite literally. In real time. Real time—I don't want to speed past this term. You ever thought about what that means? What's real about "real time"? Were older times less real? unreal? How about live information? What makes it live as opposed to non-live? Dead? Undead? Live, real: these words might ring a bell as we're back on cybernetics. That is, self-governing control systems—the new time.
Cybernetics alleviates the friction, delay, and even conscience of human decisions. It was once the hope of a few that cybernetics could be used to create a more human future— they were taken care of. Now, with unlimited application, cybernetics casts a brighter shadow than any other human technology: illuminating the earth, making possible a final fatal accident, maybe it's already underway. The conception of cybernetics gives a clue to its destiny: the offspring of a man's copulation with an anti-aircraft gun.
A child which has now matured in a complete planetary map that integrates you, your lunch delivery, and first strike capabilities alike. The destiny of cybernetics, first and foremost, is military logistics. Perhaps the destiny of technology has always been military logistics. Which is not to say technology is developed exclusively for war, but any means by which distances can be controlled will be developed by military investment: from mathematics, to flight, to live geographic information systems, GIS and GPS.
Before you could track your driver the tech was developed for blue force tracking much of what we call technological development is actually the "civilianization" of military tech. Between the living and the surveilled are screens, interfaces, virtual maps, live camera feeds: progress. From the digital image formats you're looking at at the moment, to the graphical user interface on which you're looking at them, to the LCD screen on which that GUI appears, to the internet transmitting it to your device: all the way down we're getting the sloppy seconds of military funding, which they first used to establish control over territory for a cybernetic empire. The history of politics is first the race of military logistics against the physical limitations of space—conquered by speed. Social contracts, class relations, and ideology emerge
within politics but are not its foundation. At first, this was terrestrial speed: technology as the means in which the polis can distribute power: horses, roads, trains, and APCs— police or military it makes no difference both are projections of polis power. Terrestrial speed was brought to an end by the threat of the atomic bomb, the power of which is not in its speed, but in that it deters an enemy from using their speed to control new territory. That is, nuclear deterrence. Though far more often today, control speed is accomplished by communications technology. That is, information at the speed of light. Battles over territory become secondary to battles over information.
In the Middle East for the first time, information eclipsed territory as the space of war. Hold up—nope, not that one. [Warlord]: "As I report to you, air attacks are underway against military targets in Iraq" [War Propagandist]: "David here at the Pentagon only moments ago, CNN has been told that the initial reports reaching the Pentagon from Operation Desert Shield's headquarters in Riyadh, that's CENTCOM, are very positive. It is an air campaign at this point, strictly an air campaign,
very carefully orchestrated rehearsed over many many weeks and months." [Infowar Chief]: "The next one is a SCUD storage building in Kuwait and keep your eye on the entrance to the storage again the pilot has released his bombs about two miles away and he's banking away from the target leaving the target area lasing the target and you'll see two bombs fly into the door of the storage bunker and you'll be able to count each bomb: one, two." This was an information war in more than one sense: not only was it the public debut of smart bombs, stealth, and digital geo-mapping technology, it was also the US Military's first, true, "voyeur" war.
One that took place in live, informatic space with the viewing public as participants. Terrestrial control is superseded by informatic control, including control of what the public sees. Some observed, immediately, this was not a war like other wars but a real-time simulation of war: The US military learned something in Vietnam: war is bad when people die rather no: War is unfavorable when your audience witnesses people die.
They learned then that the new war would be fought not only with bombs and personnel but with images and information. They were prepared for this one. [Infowar Chief]: "And this is my counterparts headquarters in Baghdad" [Voyeurs laugh] "This is the air headquarters the air force and keep your eye on all sides of the building as the airplane overflies the building and drops the bomb down through the center of the building" The new public relations war required a clean war, precision war. [War Propagandist]: "Those pictures were videotaped by cameras mounted on the Air Force F-111s and F-117 stealth fighters Before Desert Shield the US military had some time off, during which their contractors, engineers, and academics—geographers, in particular—were very busy. The war in Kuwait debuted a new kind of war: cyber war and the application of real-time information and disinformation technologies, logistics now at light speed, plus a live television audience. Real time war: the first video game. In the new war the enemy has become a simulated image an "other" whose agency is prescribed within the limits of a computerized program, a "war won in advance."
January 17, 1991 was the day real time annihilated space in Operation Instant Thunder. GPS, a project of the US Department of Defense was deployed in major combat for the first time: real-time positioning of targets for smart bombs, equipped with cameras, for our viewing pleasure. The war took place on a simulated virtual map of the middle east.
Cybernetic vision does not merely observe: it is productive, generating a second world. Two wars occurred simultaneously here: one on earth, and the other within its simulated double, a cyberspace. Thus, they never saw each other Blue force tracking. Red force tracking. Friendlies. Targets. They declared war on enemy information and infrastructure alike: radar sites and communication hubs were first priority targets in a new kind of war which could now be mediated by screens on the other side of the earth. This figures as not only the defeat of the Iraqi military, but the final defeat of space itself, that great invisible obstacle, the first front of "pure war." [Virilio]: "With speed the earth no longer exists." The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, at least not on the earth.
No death, only dots that disappear from the screen in accordance with a pre-written program. Post-human cyberwar—real-time content creation for an eager live audience back at home. Precision war for good PR.
Good PR for war itself. [War Propagandist]: "With computers in the cockpits, sophisticated radar, and navigational equipment today's fighters strike more targets more accurately, and cover a wider area than anyone would have dreamed possible in World War II or Vietnam" Of course this was not the other's experience of the war or its aftermath [Civilian]: "I lose my wife and my children. Is that fair? Nobody asks—nobody says something? To stop this massacre?" But this was not about them. It never is. This war was for us: a consumer public that had lost faith in war after Vietnam.
As the hostages of prime time coverage, we were made the simulacral protagonists of this war. [War Propagandist]: "Bombing runs in World War II were not very accurate. Hundreds of planes on each mission dropped bombs and did not always destroy targets. If they had had F-111s back then,
eight of them could have pulled off many of the same missions and destroyed targets with certainty." We fixed war! It's clean now. We still need it. Evil yet lurks out there in the desert... The outcome of this event, the technological progress it signaled, along with the consent it manufactured was the birth of panoptical surveillance abroad; one that has come home. 1991 birthed total tele-surveillance, revealing all the world as a grid beneath an electronic sky. With total telesurveillance everything can be seen even, what is not there.
[Secretary of Disinformation]: "...presence of weapons of mass destruction and they can claim that nothing was there and the inspectors can look all they want and they will find nothing this effort to hide things from the inspectors is not one or two isolated events—quite the contrary. This is part and parcel of a policy of evasion and deception that goes back 12 years. A policy set at the highest levels of the Iraqi regime."
In conflict zones what is not seen MUST be real: Insurgents, terrorists, WMDS could threaten precisely because we cannot see them and we can see anything. [Secretary of Disinformation]: "We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities. Let me say a word about satellite images before I show a couple. The photos that I am about to show you are sometimes hard for the average person to interpret, but as I show you these images I will try to capture and explain what they mean, what they indicate, to our imagery specialists. Let's look at one: this one is about a weapons munition facility, a facility that holds ammunition, at a place called Taji.
This is one of about 65 such facilities in Iraq. We know that this one has housed chemical munitions. The four that are in red squares represent active chemical munitions bunkers." During the first Iraq war it usually took three days to identify a target, target it, and to strike it. In the second Iraq war, the same process took fewer than 10 minutes in some cases. The second war in Iraq lasted a mere 26 days, but then we came to see what cybernetic eyes do not: unconventional warfare; targets not yet marked as targets; every military-aged male is a potential target—a population full of red. 100 000 dead, 200 000 dead—"collateral damage."
"Pure War" was born in the Middle East but the same electric sky is global. What we have to fear are the accidents which are integral to any technology. A technology that is everywhere may produce an accident everywhere. What do we have to fear? Would it show on a map? Our informatic doubles have come to replace us in so far as cybernetics is concerned.
Not only what we spend, but what we fear, what we desire, not only what we might do, but even what we are: reduced to information. What is the "integral accident" of cybernetic military logistics? A DNA-splicing Chernobyl? Cybernetic eugenicism? The final crash? That's all long since out of our hands or, in our hands as the case may be. Virilio might ask "Who's next to be marked with those red triangles?" The atom bomb. The information bomb. The demographic bomb.
The cybernetic future will be the site/sight of great accidents. "I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the Situation Room, where news and information from around the world arrive in one place simultaneously on these screens behind me data feeds coming in CNN.com other information crossing in in real time—crossing in in real time and happening right now we're watching several stories around the world Bio terror or nuclear blast? What happens if war comes to the home front here in the United States? We're following a developing story: Could the military patrol the streets of American cities? Coming up, I'll speak live this hour with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff he'll be right here in the Situation Room, you're in the Situation Room "The advanced precision kill weapon system or APKWS uses semi-active laser guidance technology to direct and guide rockets toward striking soft and lightly armored targets, in built-up or confined areas...