Israeli “Automated Kill Zones”

There is something deeply disquieting about these new Israeli Sentry Towers now installed on the Israel Gaza border:

The towers are “basically remote weapons stations, stuck on stop of silos. “As suspected hostile targets are detected and within range of Sentry-Tech positions, the weapons are slewing toward the designated target,” David Eshel describes over at Ares. “As multiple stations can be operated by a single operator, one or more units can be used to engage the target, following identification and verification by the commander.”

[They are] designed to create 1500-meter deep “automated kill zones” along the Gaza border.

Israeli “Auto Kill Zone” Towers Locked and Loaded | Danger Room from Wired.com

Bookmark splurge

These are my links for December 7th 2008 through December 18th 2008:

Will the Greek riots spread to Serbia?

Revolution like in Greece - scrawled onto a pharmacy wall in Belgrade, Serbia by local Anarchists inspired by massive riots in Greece. Dec 2008

"Revolution like in Greece" - scrawled onto a pharmacy wall in Belgrade, Serbia by local Anarchists inspired by massive riots in Greece, December 2008.

[Update: Greek rioters calling for Europe wide “resistance” tomorrow, Thursday 18th December – BBC]

Something has made very large number of Greek youths prepared to join a well established anarchist core in rioting intensely for over week.

They are obviously fed up – and it would appear corruption, economic stagnation and failed (or missing) educational reforms are at least part of the reason.

The riots have been described as “the first credit-crunch riots” and countries with high youth unemployment and a tradition of mass protest (e.g. France, Italy, Spain, Serbia) are being warned to prepare for the riots spreading.

Solidarity with our Greek comrades spraypained on a wall in Belgrade Serbia, December 2008, referring to recent riots in Greece.

"Solidarity with our Greek comrades" spraypained on a wall in Belgrade Serbia, December 2008, referring to recent riots in Greece.

It seems the young might have the same idea. From Belgrade to Bordeaux solidarity graffiti warns of  “The Coming Insurrection”.

So can Serbia expect trouble? I don’t think so.

Whilst It is a near neighbour with near identical problems (corruption, unemployment, slow reform) and a history of mass protest, mass political violence in Serbia is linked to the nationalist extreme right, and at that they mostly provide cover (or an excuse) to relatively tiny number of football hooligans who would riot against Teletubbies if you wrapped them in opposition colours.

I think these Greek riots are not just about economic problems 1, but are rooted in both uniquely Greek problems 2 and in the general crisis of legitimacy in Western Europe.

Today Athens, Tomorrow Belgrade! declares Anarchist graffiti on the streets of Belgrade, Serbia

"Today Athens, Tomorrow Belgrade!" declares Anarchist graffiti on the streets of Belgrade, Serbia referring to recent riots in Greece.

My personal belief is that Western Europe is entering into period of turmoil as the young push back against growing authoritarianism in the form eroded civil liberties and nanny state/Political Correctness forced on them by cynical (and corrupt) politicians peddling nightmares. Now growing economic hardship (caused mostly by elite greed and short-sightedness) is tipping the disgruntlement into fury and insurrection.

In Serbia however there is a sense of optimism and improvement. The economy continues to grow fast despite the global downturn. Reforms in all sectors are bearing fruit. The mood of the country seems to be very good.Even the nationalists seem to be calming down.

As Greece and the rest of the world struggle to deal with the coming economic and energy shocks, Serbs with their experience of economic collapse, shortages and hardship will be much better prepared psychologically and practically to deal with the new economic reality. The youths of Greece have never seen anything like the 90s in Serbia, sustained bombing or rule by a truly authoritarian government. Serbs have something to compare with (i.e. recent history)  and they see just how much better things are.

I predict relative calm.

With its low crime, strong social cohesion, food independence and energy links with Russia, Serbia might be a very good place to sit out the expected turmoil of the next few years. It is not a good place to be a rioter 3.

  1. Greece: it’s not all about the economy, stupid” – Spiked Online
  2. Like a strong leftist/anarchist tradition
  3. Unlike the Greek police the Serbian cops use rubber bullets AND tear-gas AND have a specialised riots squad. I think throwing a fire-bomb at the police here might get you a bullet in the head

Greek riots are carried out by smart mobs

Revolution like in Greece - scrawled onto a pharmacy wall in Belgrade, Serbia by local Anarchists inspired by massive riots in Greece. Dec 2008

“Revolution like in Greece” – scrawled onto a pharmacy wall in Belgrade, Serbia by local Anarchists inspired by massive riots in Greece,  December 2008.

A couple of notes about the ongoing rioting in Greece:

1. The riots are coordinated – like so many contemporary riots – with classic smart mob technologies like SMS, Blogs posts and Twitter(?) 1

2. It seems left wingers are responsible for much more public order violence in Europe than right wing groups or immigrants. 2

3. Minor copycat rioting has occurred in other European cities 3, but not in near neighbours like Serbia where the economic conditions are worse. I suspect this is because there is an overall sense of improvement in Serbia but the opposite feeling in Greece.

4. Greece is perfectly suited for leftist organized violence. A string of weak governments and poor policing have allowed Anarchist gangs flourish. A constitutional loophole also bans police from university campuses so “demonstrators can regroup behind barricades at the Athens Polytechnic and pick up fresh supplies of petrol bombs before heading back onto the streets” 4.

5. Something has made very large number of Greek youths prepared to join the anarchist core in rioting. They are obviously fed up – and it would appear corruption, economic stagnation and failed (or missing) educational reforms are part of the reason. 5

6. The kid was shot by mistake, hit by a ricochet.

7. Criminal gangs are now in on the action, is it time to deploy the army?  The military can raid the campus sanctuaries, destroy the petrol bomb factories and arrest the ring-leaders 6

6. English students are too ignorant of world events to even know about the riots, so not much chance of copycat rioting there. 7

Added Sunday 14th

7. We know the teargas reserves of the Greek police are about 5000 canisters. It has taken about a week of sustained rioting to use them all up, so now Israel and Germany are rushing tear-gas supplies to Greece. 8

8. Rioters are using other technologies now, like laser pointers, to target police commanders.9

9. It seems that rubber bullets (baton rouns) are much more effective in quelling riots than just using passive dispersal agents like teargas. Greek cops were reduced to throwing stones back at gas-masked anarchists – immune to their gas –  who were able to shower them with projectiles including petrol bombs. Water canons seem to effective too. Some claim that there is an unwritten agreement between the cops and the rioters not to hurt each other 10, but even in riot gear being hit by a petrol bomb is dangerous and can lead to serious injuries. This policeman –  hit by a petrol bomb –  was extremely lucky his training, fireproof protective clothing and colleagues saved him from being harmed. New reports say that the rioters are now attacking police with crossbows, swords and slingshots 11

10. The riots have been descibed as “the first credit-crunch riots”12. Countries with high youth unemployment and a tradition of mass protest (e.g. France, Italy, Spain, Serbia) should be concerned about the riots spreading. From Belgrade to Bordeaux solidarity graffiti warns of  “The Coming Insurrection“.13. My personal belief is that we are entering into period of turmoil as the young push back against growing authoritarianism in Europe. A combination of highly manipulative late stage Capitalist media culture, eroded civil liberties, nanny state/Political Correctness, political cynicism and now economic hardship (caused mostly by elite greed and short-sightedness) have combined to engender fury in Europe’s young. Part of me is delighted to see it.