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Information Technology And Expansion Of The European

International System: Essay, Research Paper INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND EXPANSION OF THE EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM: AN OVERVIEW OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR SECURITY AND SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

International System: Essay, Research Paper

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND EXPANSION OF THE EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM:

AN OVERVIEW OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR SECURITY AND SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

PATRICK MARR

EXPANSION OF THE EUROPEAN INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM

DR. MCGEEHAN

APRIL 25, 2000

“We are at risk. America depends on computers. They control power delivery, communications, aviation, and financial services. They are used to store vital information, from medical records to business plans, to criminal records. Although we trust them, they are vulnerable — to the effects of poor design and insufficient quality control, to accident, and perhaps most alarmingly, to deliberate attack. The modern thief can steal more with a computer than with a gun. Tomorrow’s terrorist may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb”

“Computers at Risk,” National Research Council, 1991.

“We need to understand the exact nature of the challenges posed by Information and Communication Technologies to existing societies and economies. We need to know what we mean by the “information society” and the “creative economy.” Above all, we need to imagine how ICTs may develop not just in rich urban societies but in all societies, in all countries, and in all sectors of these societies and countries. While the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are becoming more aware of the “haves” and “have-nots” within their own societies, there is a similar but much larger division between “haves” and “have-nots” on a global scale. Can ICTs help to close the gap?”

Howkins, John. “Development and the Information Age,” United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development, 1997.

I. Introduction

The origins Information Technology can be traced back to the first forms of spoken and written language. However, within the context of the 20th century, IT refers to the development and use of machines, whether they are computers, cameras, or indeed any electronic device, which produces, transmits, receives, deciphers, or in any other way, manipulates data. That data can be sound, text, numerical, or visual. Since the 1960’s, the world has seen the rapid development of IT via the invention and miniaturization of the transistor, the computer, fiber-optic wire, and development of numerous programming languages that instruct these machines to perform their tasks. There has already been, and no doubt will be extensive discussion of the technical innovations and specific technologies that have emerged in the past few decades. However, far more important than the specific technologies is the manner in which governments, businesses, individuals and groups implement IT to achieve their respective goals. For this exercise, IT will be loosely defined as the amalgamation of technological resources that allows for the flow of information across time and space. This paper will analyze the role of IT in the expansion of the European international system. Specifically, the analysis will look at the effect of IT on international security and socio-economic development.

Within the realm of international security, several concerns over the role of IT arise. First, what new risks are associated with the development of IT in terms of national security as well as international stability? Second, and conversely, can IT serve as a detriment to conflict? (Both of these questions also raise concerns over territorial sovereignty.) Third, what advantage, if any, does a nation with superior IT have in conflict/war?

In terms of socio-economic development, the development of IT raises new concerns for the Western world as well as Less Developed Countries: What are the benefits and consequences of the development of IT for the developed countries and those for LDC’s? Furthermore, what role has the development of IT played in expanding the European international system to LDC’s, and what are its consequences?

II. IT and Security Issues

In a very real sense, the “Information Superhighway” has become the economic brace of many developed nations. While leading the world into the Information Age, developed nations have become uniquely dependent on that highway—the computers and the global network that connect them together. This dependency has become a clear and compelling threat to their economic well being, their citizens’ public safety, and their national security for a number of reasons.

The world’s communication networks, referred to by many as “cyberspace,” know no physical boundaries. Increasing connectivity to and through cyberspace increases any nation’s exposure to traditional adversaries as well as a growing body of new ones. Drug traffickers, organized crime, terrorists and radical groups will join adversarial nation-states in making use of a rapidly increasing array of sophisticated information attack tools.

Information attacks can supplement or replace traditional military attacks, greatly complicating and expanding the vulnerabilities developed nations encounter. The resources at risk include not only information stored in or traversing cyberspace, but all of the components of infrastructure that depend upon IT and the timely availability of accurate information. These include the telecommunications infrastructures themselves; banking and financial systems; electrical power systems; other energy systems, such as oil and gas pipelines; transportation networks; water distribution systems; medical and health care systems; emergency services, such as police, fire, and rescue; and government operations at all levels. All are necessary for economic success and national security. Furthermore, governments and militaries of most, if not all developed countries rely on IT to store and secure sensitive information—data that if stolen could provide an adversary with an unfathomable advantage politically or militarily.

For example, in 1998, when the Pentagon was monitoring the possibility for another military confrontation with Iraq, the Air Force was convinced that the Iraqis were attempting to hack into their computer logistics network. However, according to a television interview with NBC News, by Rep. Mac Thornberry, a member of the Armed Services committee, “Turns out it was just a bunch of kids from California joy riding on the internet… But that shows why, if you have a cyber intrusion at the Pentagon, you can’t just send an aircraft carrier battle group off the coast of country X.” While no damage was done by that intrusion, the point is clear. The possibility that any nation’s adversaries can steal their strategic information is real, and it provides a real threat.

Another element of IT that has an effect on the security of nations is the fact that IT is fairly inexpensive. When it was built in the early 1960s, the North American Air Defense command, resting deep in a mountain in the Colorado Rockies, represented the height of technological prowess. But that was a time when the Pentagon provided most of the American market for sophisticated electronics. Now it makes up less than 1% of that market; almost any medium-sized office has the sort of computer power that it was once worth hollowing out a mountain to protect. When the hollow mountain is fitted with new systems, they will be nothing more than customized versions of the kind of moderately priced workstation familiar to medium-sized companies everywhere.

In terms of technical capability, the development of IT allows just about anyone in the world with a relatively small amount of capital to have the same technology. Recently, Sony of Japan’s new video game product, Playstation 2, has had export restrictions placed on it because of certain hardware contained inside it. The PS2’s central processor, a 128-bit microprocessor developed jointly by Sony and Toshiba, has twice the raw number-crunching power of Intel’s most advanced Pentium desktop computer chip and its graphics processor allows it to display moving images with razor-sharp quality. When combined with a video camera, the internal hardware of the PS2 can be reconfigured to form a frighteningly accurate ICBM guidance system.

The rapid and often unchecked development of IT has created a security dilemma: how can national security be protected in the wake of the rapid development of IT? Governments and militaries will struggle to provide an answer to that question for decades to come.

III. IT as a Deterrent to Conflict

The development of IT also has demonstrated its ability to deter war, and will most likely continue to do so by a variety of means. The main ability of IT to deter war rests in the field of intelligence or, more recently, information sharing. In terms of intelligence, the effect of IT is plainly visible. When a country is well informed about a potential adversary’s military strengths, its government and military are better able to determine the risks of engaging in war. Furthermore, governments are better able to engage in effective diplomatic dialogue when they are well informed about their opposition. If the Japanese had known that the United States possessed the atomic bomb, would the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred?

In terms of information sharing, the development of IT has allowed the international community to monitor conflicts around the globe, as well as allowed adversaries to watch each other. A relevant example of such a development is an experiment at Sandia National Laboratories: “The co-operative monitoring center there seeks to make available in today’s trouble-spots monitoring technologies and procedures acquired in the Cold War.” The program seeks to develop IT solutions—procedures, instruments, and systems—so that adversaries may watch each other’s maneuvers. Already showing some success, the center has brought Israelis and Arabs together to play simulated monitoring ‘peace games’ on their computer screens. The theory behind this application of IT is that if enemies are constantly watching each other with the same level of IT, the possibility of the surprise attack and even mere misunderstandings between the parties would be greatly reduced.

It is certainly true that the development of IT has not led to the end of all military conflict between countries who posses it. However, the development of information sharing and intelligence has allowed nations to better understand the consequences of military conflict, as well as prevented misunderstandings that might lead to conflict between adversaries.

IV. IT’s Affect on Warfare

The development of information technology has had a dramatic effect on the practice and strategy of warfare. Furthermore, IT in and of itself has provided a military advantage to those nations who possess advanced levels of it. However, questions remain about the extent to which superior IT provides advantage, and several wars in recent history have shown that possessing it is certainly not an assurance of victory.

In terms of practice and strategy, IT has had dramatic effects on the way that the West does battle. War strategies have become more surgical, more precise, and more reliant on smaller, more calculated actions than the brute force tactics of armies of the past. In 1815, a military division of 18,000 men would occupy an area of three square miles. Currently, a military division of ground forces would occupy an area of 125 square miles. The Gulf War is a prime example of how IT gave one adversary an unprecedented advantage over another and resulted in a rapid victory with very low levels of casualties. The allied forces battling Iraqi forces were simply better informed of where their targets were, had weapons capable of being fired from safe distances, and had defense systems capable of intercepting most Iraqi attacks. The Gulf War brought information war to its zenith:

“The sheer information overload attendant to Coalition operations was mind boggling: 700,000 phone calls and 150,000 messages per day; successful deconfliction of over 35,000 different communications frequencies; AWACS aircraft controlling 2,240 air sorties per day—more than 90,000 during the war with no midair collisions.”

While the Gulf War was a notable example of the success of IT in providing military dominance to those who possess it, the Vietnam war, as well as recent NATO action in Kosovo provide reminders that an IT advantage alone can not defeat all enemies. In both of those conflicts, American and NATO forces held a technological and logistical advantage. America lost the Vietnam War. And although NATO claims victory in the Kosovo military actions, the actual outcome is ambiguous: Slobodan Milosevic remains in power, a massive refugee crisis was produced, numerous civilian casualties were reported, and violence and conflict still plague the region.

IT will continue to be a double-edged sword in terms of security. While it appears that IT has the potential to reduce the frequency, duration and brutality of military conflicts, countries and organizations that wish to remain sheltered from military or electronic attack must keep abreast of changes in the world of IT be ready to defend themselves against weapons of information.

V. Socioeconomic Benefits and Consequences of IT

While it is true that the main beneficiaries of the development of IT have been developed countries, LDC’s have benefited as well. Western European countries and US economies have benefited immensely from the growth of IT. For example, according to the US Department of Commerce, IT has accounted for 35% of total real GDP growth since 1994. Furthermore, IT has introduced an infinitely large forum for the exchange of ideas, academic resources, research and social interaction: the Internet. For the most part, it has been the developed world that has reaped the benefits of the Internet and the whole of IT.

However, LDC’s have benefited as well. Rich industrial economies will continue to enjoy an advantage in knowledge-intensive industries but the lines between skill-rich and skill-poor countries are becoming less rigid. After years of heavy investment in education skills in Asian countries are catching up: R&D as a share of GDP in South Korea and Taiwan is now close to the OECD average and growing at a faster rate.

Another example is India. More than 100 of America’s top 500 firms buy software services from firms in India where programmers are typically paid less than their American counterparts, but still far more than the average wage. As IT expands the scope for trade in services it will inevitably expose workers in previously sheltered sectors to education and training.

The Internet has provided has provided access to Western economic, political and cultural ideas for LDC’s populations. While there is a positive argument for this phenomenon, there are those who would argue that the internet provides yet another opportunity for the homogenization of culture: “Technology expands geographically and by expanding tends to homogenize…the consequence is the dissociation of tradition as a configuration of meaning and its replacement by the aggregation of individuals as elements of a qualitative homogeneous order.”

Aside from alleged social consequences, there is an argument that IT firms operating abroad create disparities in wealth and produce a downward harmonization of labor. While these corporations certainly provide jobs, the quality of such jobs is often lower than their American or European counterparts. Additionally, the firms have demonstrated little interest in protecting job security.

The argument over the socioeconomic benefits and consequences of IT is muddled. On one hand increased stability, marginally better economic and social conditions, and the free flow of information are all products of IT. On the other hand, homogenization of culture and growth in the gap between the rich and poor result as well.

VI. Conclusion

The Industrial Revolution produced enormous changes in transport, warfare, communication, and therefore politics and the expansion of the European international system. The rise of IT is producing nearly the same result—an Information Revolution. IT is a Western, or ‘European’ concept. It has modified the process by which nations attempt to attain security. It has disseminated information and ideas, mainly Western in nature, around the globe. And it has helped to spread the Western model of the liberal free market economy. Whether the growth of IT is characterized as positive or negative, one statement holds true: the development and growth of IT is a significant factor in the continued expansion of the European international system.

Bibliography

END NOTES

“What’s a Threat to Security?” NBC Nightly News, 23 April 2000.

“A Survey of Defence Technology: The Software Revolution – The Information Advantage” The Economist. (Part 1 of 6) 10 June 1995.

“War Games” The Economist 19 April 2000.

“The Ties That Bind” The Economist. 10 June 1995.

Alberts, David S. “The Unintended Consequences of Information Age Technologies” National Defense University Pressbook. April 1996.

Arquilla, John. “The Strategic Implications of Information Dominance,” Strategic Review, Summer 1994, 24-30.

Department of Commerce Web Site: www.doc.gov.

Woodall, Pam. “A Survey of the World Economy: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Cybernomics – An Acknowledged Trend” The Economist 28 September 1996.

Cooper, Barry. “Action into Nature: An Essay on the Meaning of Technology.” Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996.

Toye, John. Dilemmas of Development Blackwell. London, 1989.

Bibliography

Alberts, David S. “The Unintended Consequences of Information Age Technologies” National Defense University Pressbook. April 1996.

Arquilla, John. “The Strategic Implications of Information Dominance,” Strategic Review, Summer 1994, 24-30.

Cooper, Barry. “Action into Nature: An Essay on the Meaning of Technology.” Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996.

Department of Commerce Web Site: www.doc.gov.

Howkins John and Valantin Robert. Development and the Information Age International Development Research Center (Online Archive—www.idrc.ca) August 1997.

Minihan, Kenneth A. “Defending the Nation Against Cyber Attack: Information Assurance in the Global Environment” USIA Electronic Journal, Vol. 3, No. 4, November 1998

“A Survey of Defence Technology: The Software Revolution – The Information Advantage” The Economist. (Part 1 of 6) 10 June 1995.

Toye, John. Dilemmas of Development Blackwell. London, 1989.

“The Ties That Bind” The Economist. 10 June 1995.

“War Games” The Economist 19 April 2000.

“What’s a Threat to Security?” NBC Nightly News, 23 April 2000.

Woodall, Pam. “A Survey of the World Economy: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Cybernomics – An Acknowledged Trend” The Economist 28 September 1996.

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