The next major war is almost never fought in the same manner as the previous one. In 1940, Britain and France learned this lesson the hard way with their expectations of returning to trench warfare to defend the Maginot Line. Hitler and the Nazis instead introduced a new strategy called blitzkrieg, enabling them to quickly encircle and destroy the British and French armies, and from there conquer nearly all of Europe.
Once again, we are failing to recognize the nature of the next major war – it will likely be a rapid, violent, and narrowly targeted war that will leave a handful of tech monopolies in ruins. And those at the end of the bayonet have no idea it's coming. This may happen sooner than we think, and be more destabilizing than we can imagine.
In 2020, tech players Twitter, Facebook, and Google (TFG) dared to do something unheard of in American history – they openly and repeatedly censored the president of the United States, the New York Post (the oldest daily newspaper in the United States), numerous other media outlets, major radio personalities, and thousands of United States citizens, all in the effort to achieve their desired political ends. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights be damned. And they succeeded.
TFG are corporations, and as such, there isn't anything technically illegal or unconstitutional in what they have done. However, let these two facts sink in for a moment:
1. TFG's censorship likely just changed the outcome of who will be the next president of the United States, the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.
2. TFG is acting as a sovereign power, and an aggressor one at that.
Imagine if the old AT&T chose to police all telephone calls on their platform in order to bleep-out falsehoods and certain types of political speech. Sounds outrageous, like something from the old communist Soviet Union, right? Yet, this is exactly what TFG is doing today. TFG's censorship activities are undermining America's First Amendment rights to "freedom of speech" and “freedom of the press,” tampering with free information flow during a national election and opening the door to further totalitarian abuses that will likely lead to the loss of more of our constitutionally protected rights. Their actions are a tacit declaration of war against America and the spirit of 1776.
We all recognize that the totalitarian regimes in China, Russia, Cuba, Iran and elsewhere have long held communication technologies under their bootheels in order to maintain complete control over their people. However, what most of us in the free world didn't recognize was this – that our brilliant TFG Billionaire Tech Boys would evolve into totalitarians as well. And that they would knowingly undermine the foundational principles of the nation that enabled their spectacular successes.
The TFG Boys made a major geopolitical miscalculation though – their 2020 censorship success against the sitting president of the United States just revealed to the entire world how powerful and valuable their platforms are, as well as how dangerous these platforms are to the existing order of nations and their leaders. In other words, the Boys just stumbled onto a dangerous geopolitical battlefield as combatants and the crosshairs are now on them. To the Boys, a battlefield means hackers, data breaches, DoS attacks, ransomware, malware and the like. Cursing and hating abound, but personal safety is never in doubt. To their new opponents, a battlefield means something entirely different.
Let me paint a dark hypothetical picture of what may unfold in the not-so-distant future:
On a Wednesday morning, about 11:00 am, the headquarters of Twitter, Facebook and Google suddenly collapse in massive bombings. Simultaneously, all their data centers, cloud farms, server farms, back-up headquarters, as well as backups to backups, are destroyed in raging fires. (Note that the CIA, FSB, CCP, MI6, Mossad and others know exactly where all their hidden back-up facilities are located.)
The initiator of the attacks immediately declares that its war is solely against Twitter, Facebook and Google in retaliation for their attacks, or impending attacks, upon them. The initiator makes it clear that it is not attacking the United States, and calls for maintaining peace. Question – will Americans be willing to send their children to war to fight and die for these TFG billionaires who have been undermining America? Unlikely.
The initiator of such an attack in this scenario could be a nation-state, a nation-state incognito, a well-funded terrorist organization, a competing corporation, a motivated billionaire or two, a former president who thinks an election was stolen from him, or a combination of these interests. The motive may be self-preservation, seeking to conquer a valuable asset, replace a valuable asset with their own, destabilization of America or the global markets, anarchy, distraction, or simple revenge.
Such an attack could come from an aggressive totalitarian power, or perhaps a democratic nation seeking to defend itself. Totalitarian regimes don't give TFG leeway within their realms, whereas, democratic nations give them nearly unfettered access, making them uniquely vulnerable to TFG aggression. For example, what would Great Britain do if it discovered that Twitter, Facebook and Google were deploying their same 2020 censorship tactics in an attempt to alter the results of Britain's next parliamentary elections or Brexit referendum?
The TFG Boys think their risk in tinkering with geopolitical affairs of state is limited to a responsive hack attack, a courtroom, another congressional subpoena, or at very worst, removal of their Section 230 immunity protection. The Boys are misunderstanding the new game they are playing; their new opponents are playing for keeps.
In 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush used "preemptive war" as the rationale to attack Iraq in order to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. In 1967, Israel used "preemptive war" to attack Egypt, Syria and Jordan. In both cases, the purpose was supposedly to preempt an aggressor's planned attack on them.
Today, there are a host of nations (and other entities) who could use the same rationale to attack TFG. Or they could wait to find out the hard way like the U.S. president just did.
For a moment, think about the consequences of the sudden and complete destruction of Twitter, Facebook and Google. Aside from the horrific loss of life, consider the 1.8 billion people who would permanently lose their Gmail and all their content saved there, the 2.7 billion people who would permanently lose all their content on Facebook, as well as the loss of trillions of business tie-ins to Twitter, Facebook and Google around the globe. It would lead to economic chaos and collapsing financial markets. And because all the back-ups have been destroyed as well, there would be no flip of the switch to turn these platforms back on. And who would rush in to replace these entities having just witnessed their violent demises?
The United States can withstand a surprise Pearl Harbor or September 11th attack; TFG can not.
The TFG Billionaire Boys who built these companies think they are untouchable, but they are not. They are not protected like the president of the United States, nor do they have the U.S. military at their disposal to protect their assets. As such, the Boys, their families, and their employees are likely in significant personal danger.
Can they change course and save themselves? Yes, but they need to act quickly, thoughtfully and decisively.
Their best option is to hightail it off of the geopolitical battlefield. This could be accomplished via a public-private partnership with the United States government. In effect, the Boys would cut an agreement whereby they maintain full control of their businesses but assign the U.S. government the role of protecting “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press,” and all other individual constitutional rights on their vast networks. It would be similar in concept to how the highway patrol is responsible for maintaining rule of law on our highways. In exchange for this invaluable service, the Boys would agree to help their home nation (and humanity) by annually directing 5 percent of their net profits to the U.S. government in order to end America's homeless crisis, perhaps via the Sunbreak Ranch model. This would make the agreement palatable and beneficial to all concerned.
A public-private partnership of this sort would bring the best of both worlds to the TFG Boys – their businesses would continue to grow and profit, they would be off the geopolitical battlefield and out of the problematic no-win roles of policing speech and political bias, the temptation of censorship would be expunged, they would have the comfort of knowing bad actors won't come after their platforms because they won't want to challenge America's military might, and they would be funding a real solution to America's most vexing social problem. It's a win-win across the board.
Act while you still can Boys. As for the 176,000 people employed by TFG, they should demand to work from home until a deal is reached or seek employment elsewhere.
In 2020, the TFG Billionaire Boys went full Orwellian on America. In turn, the totalitarians will soon go full Caesar on them. You reap what you sow.
Game on Boys.
George Mullen is the author of "The Coming Financial Tsunami" (2005) and "Welcome to the Bubble Economy" (2006), which accurately predicted the 2007-08 global economic crash. He is a principal of StudioRevolution.com in San Diego, California.