Saturday, August 06, 2005

Europe needs to be flatter

The recent announcement of EU Vice President Verheugen to spend 15 million euro on a
"research project to design and demonstrate an anti-terrorist security system architecture to better detect these terrorist threats and hence better protect railway passengers"
seems like a valuable contribution to the fight against terror. Two remarks need to be made, however. First, to me 15 million sounds a lot, but these kind of projects need to be put in perspective in order to be understood. I'm sure that it is only a fraction of the budget that individual member states spend on counter terrorism. Secondly, I cant help but feeling that priority should be given to a further search for underlying reasons for terrorism. More precise, the foreign policy in general and currently the policy on Iran more specifically.
"The European Union - through Britain, Germany and France - has been trying to find a compromise solution over Iran's nuclear plans for two years".
The earlier signalled lack of civil society however is not lost forever. Thomas Friedman foresees on short notice
"a flat world: a global, web-enabled platform for multiple forms of sharing knowledge and work, irrespective of time, distance, geography and increasingly, language".
It has to be noted that Friedman's work is far from unchallenged. John Gray, Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics sharply critises the views of Friedman. But even Gray admits that
Globalization is (...) leveling the playing field, and to that extent it is a force for human advance.

Credits for the pointer of this interesting debate should go to Dutch-Indian journalist Anil Ramdas who wrote about this. Interestingly, the same newspaper showed actual proof of Friedman's theory on August 2, when it described local community web-based initiatives such as these, these and these. Even though it is difficult to argue that sites like these replace the old-fashioned water pump at the town square but it does seem like first signs of virtual civil society.