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Space warfare and the future of US global power]

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  • scotpeden@cruzio.com
    The history alone on this, is rather informative. The creation of the US Spy networks and their morphing from spying on those that resisted our invasions, to
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2012
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      The history alone on this, is rather informative.

      The creation of the US Spy networks and their morphing from spying on
      those that resisted our invasions, to spying on Americans who resisted our
      invasion culture, to creating the necessity for invasions... and how often
      their data is wrong... at least as it is presented to us. What it
      accomplishes is rather consistent, if you look at who profits instead of
      the verbiage we are shoveled.

      Scott
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------

      http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/11/201211912435170883.html

      Anyone have a problem with this? If so, we have a drone for ya. ~Via

      Space warfare and the future of US global power
      By 2020, the Pentagon hopes to "patrol the entire globe ceaselessly",
      relentlessly via a "triple canopy space shield".
      Last Modified: 11 Nov 2012 16:42
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      There are 7,000 drones in the US armada of unmanned aircraft, including 800
      larger missile-firing drones [REUTERS]

      It's 2025 and an American "triple canopy" of advanced surveillance and
      armed drones fills the heavens from the lower- to the exo-atmosphere. A
      wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the
      planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy's satellite communications
      system, or follow individuals biometrically for great distances.

      Along with the country's advanced cyberwar capacity, it's also the most
      sophisticated militarised information system ever created and an insurance
      policy for US global dominion deep into the 21st century. It's the future
      as the Pentagon imagines it; it's under development; and Americans know
      nothing about it.

      They are still operating in another age. "Our Navy is smaller now than at
      any time since 1917,"
      complained<http://www.debates.org/index.php?page=october-22-2012-the-third-obama-romney-presidential-debate>Republican
      candidate Mitt Romney during the last presidential debate.

      With words of withering mockery, President Obama shot back: "Well,
      Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our
      military's changed... the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're
      counting ships. It's what are our capabilities."

      Obama later offered just a hint of what those capabilities might be: "What
      I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we
      going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe?... We need to be
      thinking about cyber security. We need to be talking about space."

      Amid all the post-debate media chatter, however, not a single commentator
      seemed to have a clue when it came to the profound strategic changes
      encoded in the president's sparse words. Yet for the past four years,
      working in silence and secrecy, the Obama administration has presided over
      a technological revolution in defence planning, moving the nation far
      beyond bayonets and battleships to cyberwarfare and the full-scale
      weaponisation of space.

      In the face of waning economic influence, this bold new breakthrough in
      what's called "information warfare" may prove significantly responsible
      should US global dominion somehow continue far into the 21st century.

      While the technological changes involved are nothing less than
      revolutionary, they have deep historical roots in a distinctive style of
      American global power. It's been evident from the moment this nation first
      stepped onto the world stage with its conquest of the Philippines in 1898.

      Over the span of a century, plunged into three Asian crucibles of
      counterinsurgency - in the Philippines, Vietnam and Afghanistan - the US
      military has repeatedly been pushed to the breaking point. It has
      repeatedly responded by fusing the nation's most advanced technologies into
      new information infrastructures of unprecedented power.
      * Inside Story Americas - Are US drones *
      *terrorising civilians?*

      That military first created a manual information regime for Philippine
      pacification, then a computerised apparatus to fight communist guerrillas
      in Vietnam. Finally, during its decade-plus in Afghanistan (and its years
      in Iraq), the Pentagon has begun to fuse biometrics, cyberwarfare and a
      potential future triple canopy aerospace shield into a robotic information
      regime that could produce a platform of unprecedented power for the
      exercise of global dominion - or for future military disaster.

      *America's first information revolution *

      This distinctive US system of imperial information gathering (and the
      surveillance and war-making practices that go with it) traces its origins
      to some brilliant American innovations in the management of textual,
      statistical and visual data. Their sum was nothing less than a new
      information infrastructure with an unprecedented capacity for mass
      surveillance.

      During two extraordinary decades, American inventions like Thomas Alva
      Edison's quadruplex telegraph (1874), Philo Remington's commercial
      typewriter (1874), Melvil Dewey's library decimal system (1876) and Herman
      Hollerith's patented punch card (1889) created synergies that led to the
      militarised application of America's first information revolution.

      To pacify a determined guerrilla resistance that persisted in the
      Philippines for a decade after 1898, the US colonial regime - unlike
      European empires with their cultural studies of "Oriental civilisations" -
      used these advanced information technologies to amass detailed empirical
      data on Philippine society.

      In this way, they forged an Argus-eyed security apparatus that played a
      major role in crushing the Filipino nationalist movement. The resulting
      colonial policing and surveillance system would also leave a lasting
      institutional imprint on the emerging American state.

      When the US entered World War I in 1917, the "father of US military
      intelligence" Colonel Ralph Van Deman drew upon security methods he had
      developed years before in the Philippines to found the Army's Military
      Intelligence Division. He recruited a staff that quickly grew from one
      (himself) to 1,700, deployed some 300,000 citizen-operatives to compile
      more than a million pages of surveillance reports on American citizens, and
      laid the foundations for a permanent domestic surveillance apparatus.

      A version of this system rose to unparalleled success during World War II
      when Washington established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as the
      nation's first worldwide espionage agency. Among its nine branches,
      Research & Analysis recruited a staff of nearly 2,000 academics who amassed
      300,000 photographs, a million maps and three million file cards, which
      they deployed in an information system via "indexing, cross-indexing and
      counter-indexing" to answer countless tactical questions.

      Yet by early 1944, the OSS found itself, in the words of historian Robin
      Winks, "drowning under the flow of information". Many of the materials it
      had so carefully collected were left to molder in storage, unread and
      unprocessed. Despite its ambitious global reach, this first US information
      regime, absent technological change, might well have collapsed under its
      own weight, slowing the flow of foreign intelligence that would prove so
      crucial for America's exercise of global dominion after World War II.

      *Computerising Vietnam *

      Under the pressures of a never-ending war in Vietnam, those running the US
      information infrastructure turned to computerised data management,
      launching a second American information regime. Powered by the most
      advanced IBM mainframe computers, the US military compiled monthly
      tabulations of security in all of South Vietnam's 12,000 villages and filed
      the three million enemy documents its soldiers captured annually on giant
      reels of bar-coded film.

      At the same time, the CIA collated and computerised diverse data on the
      communist civilian infrastructure as part of its infamous Phoenix
      Programme. This, in turn, became the basis for its systematic tortures and
      41,000 "extra-judicial executions" (which, based on disinformation from
      petty local grudges and communist counterintelligence, killed many but
      failed to capture more than a handfull of top communist cadres).

      Most ambitiously, the US Air Force spent $800m a year to lace southern Laos
      with a network of 20,000 acoustic, seismic, thermal and ammonia-sensitive
      sensors to pinpoint Hanoi's truck convoys coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail
      undera heavy jungle canopy. The information these provided was then
      gathered on computerised systems for the targeting of incessant bombing
      runs.
      * Inside Story Amercias: Are US drone strikes *
      *a war crime?*

      After 100,000 North Vietnamese troops passed right through this electronic
      grid undetected with trucks, tanks and heavy artillery to launch the Nguyen
      Hue Offensive in 1972, the US Pacific Air Force pronounced this bold
      attempt to build an "electronic battlefield" an unqualified failure.

      In this pressure cooker of what became history's largest air war, the Air
      Force also accelerated the transformation of a new information system that
      would rise to significance three decades later: The Firebee target drone.

      By war's end, it had morphed into an increasingly agile unmanned aircraft
      that would make 3,500 top-secret surveillance sorties over China, North
      Vietnam and Laos. By 1972, the SC/TV drone, with a camera in its nose, was
      capable of flying 2,400 miles while navigating via a low-resolution
      television image.

      On balance, all this computerised data helped foster the illusion that
      American "pacification" programmes in the countryside were winning over the
      inhabitants of Vietnam's villages and the delusion that the air war was
      successfully destroying North Vietnam's supply effort.

      Despite a dismal succession of short-term failures that helped deliver a
      soul-searing blow to American power, all this computerised data-gathering
      proved a seminal experiment, even if its advances would not become evident
      for another 30 years until the US began creating a third - robotic -
      information regime.

      *The global 'war on terror' *

      As it found itself at the edge of defeat in the attempted pacification of
      two complex societies, Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington responded in part
      by adapting new technologies of electronic surveillance, biometric
      identification and drone warfare - all of which are now melding into what
      may become an information regime far more powerful and destructive than
      anything that has come before.

      After six years of a failing counter-insurgency effort in Iraq, the
      Pentagon discovered the power of biometric identification and electronic
      surveillance to pacify the country's sprawling cities. It then
      built<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/30/AR2007113002302.html>
      a
      biometric database with more than a million Iraqi fingerprints and iris
      scans that US patrols on the streets of Baghdad could access
      instantaneously by satellite link to a computer centre in West Virginia.

      When President Obama took office and launched his
      "surge<http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175176/tomgram:__state_of_surge,_afghanistan/>",
      escalating the US war effort in Afghanistan, that country became a new
      frontier for testing and perfecting such biometric databases, as well as
      for full-scale drone war in both that country and the Pakistani tribal
      borderlands, the latest wrinkle in a techno-war already loosed by the Bush
      administration. This meant accelerating technological developments in drone
      warfare that had largely been suspended for two decades after the Vietnam
      War.

      Launched as an experimental, unarmed surveillance aircraft in 1994, the
      Predator drone was first deployed in 2000 for combat surveillance under the
      CIA's "Operation Afghan Eyes". By 2011, the advanced MQ-9 Reaper drone,
      with "persistent hunter killer" capabilities, was heavily
      armed<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/opinion/sunday/do-drones-undermine-democracy.html>
      with
      missiles and bombs as well as sensors that could read disturbed dirt at
      5,000 feet and track footprints back to enemy installations. Indicating the
      torrid pace of drone development, between 2004 and 2010 total flying time
      for all unmanned vehicles
      rose<http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175195/nick_turse_the_forty_year_drone_war>
      from
      just 71 hours to 250,000 hours.

      By 2009, the Air Force and the CIA were already
      deploying<http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/business/17uav.html> a
      drone armada of at least 195 Predators and 28 Reapers inside Afghanistan,
      Iraq and Pakistan - and it's only grown since. These collected and
      transmitted 16,000 hours of video daily, and from 2006 to 2012 fired
      hundreds of Hellfire missiles that killed an estimated
      2,600<http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/drones-pakistan/http:/www.longwarjournal.org/pakistan-strikes.php>
      supposed
      insurgents inside Pakistan's tribal areas.

      Though the second-generation Reaper drones might seem stunningly
      sophisticated, one defence analyst hascalled
      them<http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/business/17uav.html> "very
      much Model T Fords". Beyond the battlefield, there are now some 7,000
      drones in the US armada of unmanned aircraft,
      including<http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-growing-us-drone-fleet/2011/12/23/gIQA76faEP_graphic.html>
      800
      larger missile-firing drones. By funding its own fleet of 35 drones and
      borrowing others from the Air Force, the CIA has moved beyond passive
      intelligence collection to build a permanent robotic paramilitary capacity.

      In the same years, another form of information warfare came, quite
      literally, online. Over two administrations, there has been continuity in
      the development of a cyberwarfare
      capability<http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175607/karen_greenberg_a_digital_9.11>
      at
      home and abroad. Starting in 2002, President George W Bush illegally
      authorised <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/us/17nsa.html> the National
      Security Agency to scan countless millions of electronic messages with its
      top-secret "Pinwale" database. Similarly, the
      FBIstarted<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/29/AR2006082901520.html>
      an
      Investigative Data Warehouse that, by 2009, held a billion individual
      records.

      Under Presidents Bush and Obama, defensive digital surveillance has grown
      into an offensive "cyberwarfare" capacity, which has already been deployed
      against Iran in history's first significant cyberwar. In 2009, the Pentagon
      formed US Cyber Command
      <http://www.stratcom.mil/factsheets/Cyber_Command/> (CYBERCOM),
      with headquarters at Ft Meade, Maryland, and a cyberwarfare centre at
      Lackland Air Base in Texas,
      staffed<http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/us/01cyberwar.html> by
      7,000 Air Force employees.
      *Inside Story - How real is the threat of cyberwar?*

      Two years later, it
      declared<http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/14/us-usa-defense-cybersecurity-idUSTRE76D5FA20110714>
      cyberspace
      an "operational domain" like air, land or sea, and began putting its energy
      into developing a cadre of cyber-warriors capable of launching offensive
      operations, such as a variety of
      attacks<http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/stuxnet-was-work-of-us-and-israeli-experts-officials-say/2012/06/01/gJQAlnEy6U_story.html>
      on
      the computerised centrifuges in Iran's nuclear facilities and Middle
      Eastern
      banks<http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/sep/21/cyberwar-iran-more-sophisticated>
      handling
      Iranian money.

      *A robotic information regime *

      As with the Philippine Insurrection and the Vietnam War, the occupations of
      Iraq and Afghanistan have served as the catalyst for a new information
      regime, fusing aerospace, cyberspace, biometrics and robotics into an
      apparatus of potentially unprecedented power.

      In 2012, after years of ground warfare in both countries and the continuous
      expansion <http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175545/helman_kramer_war_pay> of
      the Pentagon budget, the Obama administration
      announced<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/raw-doc-the-pentagons-unveils-new-strategy/2012/01/05/gIQACPwqcP_blog.html>
      a
      leaner future defence strategy. It included a 14 percent cut in future
      infantry strength to be compensated for by an increased emphasis on
      investments in the dominions of outer space and cyberspace, particularly in
      what the administration calls "critical space-based capabilities".

      By 2020, this new defence architecture should theoretically be able to
      integrate space, cyberspace and terrestrial combat through robotics for -
      so the claims go - the delivery of seamless information for lethal action.
      Significantly, both space and cyberspace are new, unregulated domains of
      military conflict, largely beyond international law.

      And Washington hopes to use both, without limitation, as Archimedean levers
      to exercise new forms of global dominion far into the twenty-first century,
      just as the British Empire once ruled from the seas and the Cold War
      American imperium exercised its global reach via airpower.

      As Washington seeks to surveil the globe from space, the world might well
      ask: Just how high is national sovereignty? Absent any international
      agreement about the vertical extent of sovereign airspace (since a
      conference on international air law, convened in Paris in 1910, failed),
      some puckish Pentagon lawyer might reply: Only as high as you can enforce
      it.

      And Washington has filled this legal
      void<http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/plan-for-hunting-terrorists-signals-us-intends-to-keep-adding-names-to-kill-lists/2012/10/23/4789b2ae-18b3-11e2-a55c-39408fbe6a4b_story_4.html>
      with
      a secret executive matrix - operated by the CIA and the clandestine Special
      Operations Command - that assigns names arbitrarily, without any judicial
      oversight, to a classified "kill list" that means silent, sudden death from
      the sky for terror suspects across the Muslim world.

      Although US plans for space warfare remain highly classified, it is
      possible to assemble the pieces of this aerospace puzzle by trawling the
      Pentagon's websites and finding many of the key components in technical
      descriptions at the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

      As early as 2020, the Pentagon hopes to patrol the entire globe
      ceaselessly, relentlessly via a triple canopy space shield reaching from
      stratosphere to exosphere, driven by drones armed with agile missiles,
      linked by a resilient modular satellite system, monitored through a
      telescopic panopticon and operated by robotic controls.

      At the lowest tier of this emerging US aerospace shield, within striking
      distance of Earth in the lower stratosphere, the Pentagon is building an
      armada of 99 Global Hawk drones equipped with high-resolution cameras
      capable of surveilling all terrain within a 100-mile radius, electronic
      sensors to intercept communications, efficient engines for continuous
      24-hour flights and eventually, Triple Terminator
      missiles<http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/Triple_Target_Terminator_%28T3%29.aspx>to
      destroy targets below.

      By late 2011, the Air Force and the CIA had already
      ringed<http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175454/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_mapping_america%27s_shadowy_drone_wars>
      the
      Eurasian land mass with a network of 60 bases for drones armed with
      Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs, allowing air strikes against targets
      just about anywhere in Europe, Africa or Asia.

      The sophistication of the technology at this level was
      exposed<http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/national_world&id=8460493>
      in
      December 2011 when one of the CIA's RQ-170 Sentinels came down in Iran.
      Revealed was a bat-winged drone equipped with radar-evading stealth
      capacity, active electronically scanned array radar and advanced
      optics<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2133491/Iranians-say-reverse-engineered-captured-secret-drone-spy-plane.html>
      "that
      allow operators to positively identify terror suspects from tens of
      thousands of feet in the air".

      If things go according to plan, in this same lower tier at altitudes up to
      12 miles unmanned aircraft such asthe
      "Vulture"<http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/Vulture.aspx>,
      with solar panels covering its massive 400-foot wingspan, will be
      patrolling the globe ceaselessly for up to five years at a time with
      sensors for "unblinking" surveillance, and possibly missiles for lethal
      strikes.

      *Sophistication of the technology*

      Establishing the viability of this new technology, NASA's solar-powered
      aircraft Pathfinder, with a 100-foot wingspan,
      reached<http://www.avinc.com/careers/benefits/nextPage> an
      altitude of 71,500 feet altitude in 1997, and its fourth-generation
      successor the "Helios" flew at 97,000 feet with a 247-foot wingspan in
      2001, two miles higher than any previous aircraft.
      *Fault Lines - Robot wars*

      For the next tier above the Earth, in the upper stratosphere, DARPA and the
      Air Force
      arecollaborating<http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/x-41-htv-3.htm>
      in
      the development of the Falcon Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle. Flying at an
      altitude of 20 miles, it is expected to "deliver 12,000 pounds of payload
      at a distance of 9,000 nautical miles from the continental United States in
      less than two hours".

      Although the first test launches in April 2010 and August 2011 crashed
      midflight, they did
      reach<http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2011/2011/08/11DARPA_HYPERSONIC_VEHICLE_ADVANCES_TECHNICAL_KNOWLEDGE.aspx>
      an
      amazing 13,000 miles per hour, 22 times the speed of sound and sent
      back<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/12/us/12falcon.html> "unique
      data" that should help resolve remaining aerodynamic problems.

      At the outer level of this triple-tier aerospace canopy, the age of space
      warfare dawned in April 2010 when the Pentagon quietly
      launched<http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=16639>
      the
      X-37B space drone, an unmanned craft just 29 feet long, into an orbit 250
      miles above the Earth. By the time its second prototype
      landed<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11911335> at
      Vandenberg Air Force Base in June 2012 after a 15-month flight, this
      classified mission
      represented<http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0618/Mysterious-Air-Force-space-plane-lands-after-15-months-in-orbit>
      a
      successful test of "robotically controlled reusable spacecraft" and
      established the viability of unmanned space drones in the exosphere.

      At this apex of the triple canopy, 200 miles above Earth where the space
      drones will soon roam, orbital satellites are the prime targets, a
      vulnerability that became obvious in 2007 when China used a ground-to-air
      missile to shoot
      down<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/23/AR2007012300114.html>
      one
      of its own satellites.

      In response, the Pentagon is now
      developing<http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/System_F6.aspx>
      the
      F-6 satellite system that
      will<http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/KI02Ad01.html> "decompose
      a large monolithic spacecraft into a group of wirelessly linked elements,
      or nodes [that increases] resistance to... a bad part breaking or an
      adversary attacking".

      And keep in mind that the X-37B has a capacious cargo bay to carry missiles
      or future laser weaponry to knock out enemy satellites - in other words,
      the potential capability to cripple the communications of a future military
      rival like China, which will have its own global satellite system
      operational by 2020.

      Ultimately, the impact of this third information regime will be shaped by
      the ability of the US military to integrate its array of global aerospace
      weaponry into a robotic command structure that would be capable of
      coordinating operations across all combat domains: space, cyberspace, sky,
      sea and land.

      To manage the surging torrent of information within this delicately
      balanced triple canopy, the system would, in the end, have to become
      self-maintaining through "robotic manipulator technologies", such as the
      Pentagon's FREND
      system<http://gizmodo.com/5932150/to-test-a-satellite-dock-darpa-built-a-37+ton-air-hockey-table>
      that
      someday could potentially deliver fuel, provide repairs or reposition
      satellites.

      For a new global optic, DARPA is
      building<http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/TTO/Programs/Space_Surveillance_Telescope_%28SST%29.aspx>
      the
      wide-angle Space Surveillance Telescope (SST), which could be sited at
      bases ringing the globe for a quantum leap in "space surveillance". The
      system would allow future space warriors to see the whole sky wrapped
      around the entire planet while seated before a single screen, making it
      possible to track every object in Earth orbit.

      Operation of this complex worldwide apparatus will require, as one DARPA
      official
      explained<https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:YpCZSZ4Vt5oJ:archive.darpa.mil/DARPATech2007/proceedings/dt07-vso-brown-access.pdf+Speech+by+Dr.+Owen+Brown,+Program+Manager,+Virtual+Space+Office,+DARPA%27s+25th+Systems+and+Technology+Symposium,+Anaheim,+California,+August+8,+2007,&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgQT90ILlQDdmoXCpmN8zqLKYwf0n91EHkesLveUUDm1KQlQVuzJCOvxCIZDbbGnFgINAtcly-X-BTHbYu45P855sDplEeekn_sKHZYovj8g6gle8Ev1ek8vOUhOeuSmaDfxtD-&sig=AHIEtbT4a5UcEbyFc_TIXuZirVsiOiRHtQ>
      in
      2007, "an integrated collection of space surveillance systems - an
      architecture - that is leak-proof".

      Thus, by 2010, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
      had<http://blogs.reuters.com/gregg-easterbrook/2011/01/20/undisciplined-spending-in-the-name-of-defense>
      16,000
      employees, a $5 billion budget, and a massive $2 billion headquarters at
      Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with 8,500 staffers wrapped in electronic security
      - all aimed at coordinating<http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/nga/standards.pdf>
      the
      flood of surveillance data pouring in from Predators, Reapers, U-2 spy
      planes, Global Hawks, X-37B space drones, Google Earth, Space Surveillance
      Telescopes and orbiting satellites.

      *"Under Presidents Bush and Obama, defensive digital surveillance has grown
      into an offensive 'cyberwarfare' capacity, which has already been deployed
      against Iran in history's first significant cyberwar."*

      By 2020 or thereafter - such a complex techno-system is unlikely to respect
      schedules - this triple canopy should be able to atomise a single
      "terrorist" with a missile strike after tracking his eyeball, facial image,
      or heat signature for hundreds of miles through field and favela, or blind
      an entire army by knocking out all ground communications, avionics and
      naval navigation.

      *Technological dominion or techno-disaster?*

      Peering into the future, a still uncertain balance of forces offers two
      competing scenarios for the continuation of US global power. If all or much
      goes according to plan, sometime in the third decade of this century the
      Pentagon will complete a comprehensive global surveillance system for
      Earth, sky and space using robotics to coordinate a veritable flood of data
      from biometric street-level monitoring, cyber-data mining, a worldwide
      network of Space Surveillance Telescopes and triple canopy aeronautic
      patrols.

      Through agile data management of exceptional power, this system might allow
      the United States a veto of global lethality, an equaliser for any further
      loss of economic strength.

      However, as in Vietnam, history offers some pessimistic parallels when it
      comes to the US preserving its global hegemony by militarised technology
      alone. Even if this robotic information regime could somehow check China's
      growing military power, the US might still have the same chance of
      controlling wider geopolitical forces with aerospace technology as the
      Third Reich had of winning World War II with its "super weapons" - V-2
      rockets that rained death on London and Messerschmitt Me-262 jets that
      blasted allied bombers from Europe's skies.

      Complicating the future further, the illusion of information omniscience
      might incline Washington to more military misadventures akin to Vietnam or
      Iraq, creating the possibility of yet more expensive, draining conflicts,
      from Iran to the South China Sea.

      If the future of America's world power is shaped by actual events rather
      than long-term economic trends, then its fate might well be determined by
      which comes first in this century-long cycle: Military debacle from the
      illusion of technological mastery, or a new technological regime powerful
      enough to perpetuate US global dominion.

      *Alfred W McCoy is the JRW Smail Professor of History at the University of
      Wisconsin-Madison. ATomDispatch
      regular<http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175327/alfred_mccoy_the_decline_and_fall_of_the_American_empire>,
      he is the lead author of **Endless Empire: Spain's Retreat, Europe's
      Eclipse, America's
      Decline<http://www.amazon.com/dp/0299290247/ref=nosim/?tag=tomdispatch-20>
      **(University of Wisconsin, 2012), which is the source for much of the
      material in this essay.*

      *A version of this article first appeared on
      TomDispatch.com<http://www.tomdispatch.com/>
      .*

      *The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not
      necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.*
      ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
      Deborah Lagutaris, JD, BA
      Ansible Tax Service, the Aggressive
      Progressives<http://aardvarklegalsf.org/aa/>
      AardvarkLegalDocumentPrep <http://www.aardvarklegalsf.org>
      Licensed California Real Estate Buyer's
      Broker<http://www.buyersbrokerdeb.com>


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