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July 31, 2005



John, where do you hear about these events? They are obviously NOT on 24 hour cable news channels. What else are we missing?

John Robb

Valdis, I cast a wide net and have a big network of smart people like yourself. ;->


Um, the irony is that "private navies" are far from being "a radical new solution." After all, "privateers" were, precisely, private military forces the flourished before the nationalization of naval warfare. So from privateers to pirates, and back to privateers...

John Robb

Jon, that is precisely the problem. The world that produced the 30 years war wasn't a very nice place.


"The world that produced the 30 years war wasn't a very nice place."

Indeed. But the question is how novel today's developments are. How much does what we are seeing now constitute distinctly new forms of warfare, insurgency, politics, etc.? And how much is it a return or continuation of historic processes that have perhaps been long overlooked?

No simple answer, of course. But I was just pointing out that your source over-stated the novelty in this particular case.

John Robb

Jon, totally understand your precise critic of this article. However, there is an underlying theme I think needs to be addressed.

Everything has roots in something else. For example: Is the Internet something new (emergent properties) or is it merely another application of widely deployed networking technology?


John, I agree absolutely. And I'm not trying to suggest that there's nothing new under the sun. On the other hand, the tendency is often to overstate novelty, rather than think through historical parallels. Indeed, of course, it's only by thinking historically that you can really grasp novelty.

The internet's a good example. We can best judge what's new about it by comparing its impact and operation to that of (say) the telegraph in the nineteenth century or the telephone at the turn of the twentieth. Many of the same hopes, fears, and desires were expressed about these earlier technologies as have been raised by the Internet.

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