How Governments Made Us into Weapons

counter extremism project, counter extremism, project

The year was 2001. The world had just watched in horror as Al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two hijacked commercial airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and another into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Approximately 3,000 people died that day. In response, the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush declared a war on terrorism. Through the global project, they sought to counter extremism and terrorism.

What followed was systematic uprooting. Everything from surveillance and weaponry to foreign strategies was altered to accommodate the total eradication of terrorism. With varying degrees of success, I might add. This project to counter extremism and terrorism initiated the war on terror, officially named the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).

The global consensus was that terrorism posed a significant threat to international security and peaceful existence. Yet, many questioned the effectiveness and appropriateness of the strategies employed by the U.S. and its allies. At the time, these allies were mainly the U.K., Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Poland, among others. Critics primarily raised concerns about the erosion of civil liberties and the undermining of human rights. One of their most significant grievances was with the use of Big Data and data analysis.

For better or for worse, that nightmare granted world governments the license to encroach on citizens’ privacy, collect their data, and weaponize it. They deemed it appropriate to risk creating a surveillance state, resembling an overbearing mother whose fear dictates her relationship with her children.

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