The Internet...and the U.S. Army

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on December 7, 2008

There's taking pride in your profession, but at some point reality has to intrude.

The spread of information on the Internet has given the world a new tool to forestall conflicts, Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio said Sunday.

In his Nobel lecture to the Swedish Academy, the 68-year-old Frenchman said an earlier introduction of information technology could even have prevented World War II.

"Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded - ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day," he said.

Well, I'll concede the point that the Internet may be a more formidable power than the French military (yes, it was too easy, but I still wrote it). However, the idea that the Internet will ever be some sort of cure-all for international conflicts is delusional.

First, the Internet is the medium, not the message. China has the Internet, but it is so tightly controlled by the government to make it next to useless to disseminating information. Does anyone really doubt that had the technology been available 70 years ago that the Third Reich wouldn't have taken similar steps? Besides, ridicule is far older than the Internet, and while it can be amusing, it has little force.

Second, the just because it's ridiculed online, doesn't prove it won't have a following. Evidence: 9/11 Truthers. Trig-parentage Truthers. Obama birth certificate Truthers.

Finally, was the Internet able to stop the genocide in Rwanda? The ethnic cleansing in Kosovo? The Russian-Chechen conflict? The civil war in the Sudan? The brutality of Robert Mugabe?

I like words. Words are my business. However, there is a point where you need to acknowledge that words won't stop atrocities -- only military power will.

0 comments on “The Internet...and the U.S. Army”

  1. Don't think it would have stopped anything, but the internet is good for short circuiting the media. Hence we would have had less articles about Hitler in Better Homes and Gardens and more about accurate translations of speeches he was giving in Berlin. Stopped, no, gotten the word out, maybe mobilized opinion, maybe, or given the hate that still exist for his target group, maybe not.

  2. From the Speculative New York Times Online: (date line January 15, 1942)

    A high ranking Nazi official who claimed to have attended the Wannsee Conference stated strongly that "Reinhard Heydrich's surprise birthday party was a smashing success. Herr Eichmann was in rare form as always."

    In other news, the most recent convoy of US Merchant vessels carrying much needed supplies to England will be located at the following coordinates at 2PM EST tomorrow...


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