Egypt may have made their single biggest strategic blunder by attempting to shut down the Internet and cell networks. Indeed, by doing so they may have sealed their destiny. Yeah, yeah, yeah of course Facebook and Twitter are organizing tools for crowd sourcing. But so what! Let them come out in the streets, but do not incite violence or attack the protesters.
Violence begets violence plain and simple. Wasn’t it Senator John Kerry this morning who echoed the words of Gandhi and Martin Luther King? Egypt, the Internet is the safety valve. Yep, and by shutting it down you may have quashed all opportunity for a peaceful resolution of the unrest in Cairo. The challenge for Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is whether he and his regime will step up by turning the Internet back on; or revert back to silence and terror. This government, and others like it, fails to grasp the new and all-powerful role of the Internet, and specifically social media in bringing people together, promoting discourse and potentially halting violence.
Alas, if all of the world would only fight in cyberspace. Nation would not lift up the sword against other nations, or their own people. And, we might never again have to live through the wholesale slaughter of a Tiananmen Square. But sadly, only a handful of even our political leaders appear to have embraced the full ramifications of the future which beckons.
Remarkably, again Senator John Kerry, chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, got it as echoed in his further remarks this morning calling for Egypt to “immediately restore communications and access to social networking sites” in the hope of a viable resolution. Ironically, our own Vice President Joe Biden (another strong veteran of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee) appears to have some inner or external conflict about Egypt, and further the social media train seems to have forgotten to stop at his station.
So will this nation and others like North Korea or Yemen to name a few, continue to reign in silence by the sword? Or will Egypt come along kicking and screaming with a little encouragement (and money) from President Obama and Madam Secretary of State Clinton? Moreover, what roles can micro-blogging platforms like Facebook, Twitter or their ilk play?
In fact, will their role evolve beyond broadcasting, and early warning systems to the media? Consider that that there could be a new kind of revolutionary or agent of change; one that is armed with keyboards and smart phones – rather than stones, knives or guns. If WikiLeaks, and their supercilious leader, Julian Assange taught us nothing else, it is that the skillful use of cyberspace is a worthy weapon in the war for change. It seems that there is more here than meets the eye with this Facebook and Twitter. Otherwise why would foreign affairs honchos sorts sit at the helm of at least Facebook? Assuredly, there must be more, and not just for those drinking Kool-Aid from the Internet water fountain.