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Several years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down over dinner with Ted Sorenson, one of President Kennedy's closest advisors. We discussed the Cuban Missile Crisis at length and it was obvious to me as we spoke, that this singular event had a profound and enduring effect on him--to this day. This seminal event in our nation's history continues to be studied at all of our nation's war colleges and universities. Those discussions, public and private, prompted me to craft this lens.
In February 2005, Chinese citizens celebrated the Lunar New Year by sending and receiving a total of 11 billion text messages. If text-messaging had been as readily available in the spring of 1989, the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square might will have ended differently. What happens the next time a spontaneous large-scale demonstration in China takes on a life of its own? That question may have already have been answered in the Philippines. Text-messaging there helped topple a government in 2001. Opposition organizers used text messages to direct 700,000 demonstrators to Manila's People Power shrine to demand the removal of then President Joseph Estrada.
Reading this, I was reminded of the "Flash Mob" phenomenon that started back in May 2003 in Manhattan, by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper's Magazine, derived perhaps by the 1999 remake of the movie The Thomas Crown Affair, starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. The Flash Mob rage seems to have tapered off a bit over the past few years, but the power of text messaging and the internet in attracting or inspiring a large crowd in short order endures. Russia's flash mob community (not to be confused with the other--organized crime--mob) is said to be one of the largest with more than 18,000 active members in more than 30 cities. The largest flash mob cities in Russia are reported to be St. Petersburg and Moscow. At their peak, from 2003-2005, flashmob events took place in Russia's major cities on weekly basis. In China's capital of Beijing, Flash Mobs seem to be tolerated by state authorities if there is no clear breach of the law.
Bloggers like Halleycom have aptly dubbed this unique communications capability "Weapons of Mass Instruction," describing it as an "army"
...the size of which the world has never seen...amassing across the globe. These are warriors of a new age. They don’t wear uniforms, march in cadence, or take orders from any commander. Their weapon of choice fires no bullets, but yet has the power to take down a U.S. presidential candidate or make the leaders of a nation of 1.3 billion people tremble at their advance.
Their chosen weapon of mass instruction is the keyboard....
So, with this army of text messagers, bloggers, podcasters, skypers and webchatters already established, here's a good question to consider: what will be the result when all of these forms of instant communication are used for the next mass demonstration in Moscow? Or Beijing? I'll bet dissidents such as Gary Kasparov (founder of Russia's United Civil Front) and Ma Shaofang (+ others in and out of China have already considered these technologies as potentially "revolutionary" tools for the future, in the truest sense of the word....
Post Script: See the music videos of The Thomas Crown Affair below...
Welcome to my Blog! I'm glad you're here. This is my first post, so I'm excited to be writing this to you. I'm an Army Special Forces officer still serving on active duty and living in Washington, D.C. Over the past two decades, I've deployed to crisis spots and war zones around the world, worked in the West Wing of the White House and in the Pentagon's E-Ring. Drawing on those experiences, I wrote The Lazarus Covenant--a novel of international suspense in the tradition of Gerald Seymore, Daniel Silva and John LeCarre.
Only recently completed, the novel is represented by Gary Heidt of The Imprint Agency in New York City--a wonderful agent and a superb literary agency. In posts to come, I'll use this blog to provide you with updates on the road to publication, as well as other books and articles I'm writing. You can also learn more about The Lazarus Covenant on my website: JohnFenzel.com. There, you'll be able to get the "story behind the story," read an excerpt of the book, and even be able to view a full Photographic/Satellite Tour of the novel's setting.
My goal in writing this novel was to tell the compelling story of a potentially catastrophic international crisis--with the kind of operational fidelity that is difficult to find in today's novels. I'll actually take you inside the halls of the West Wing, into the catacombs of the Vatican, and through the mountains and dramatic gorges of the Balkans. Ultimately, it's a haunting tale of friendship, faith, forgiveness; and it's the story of one man's journey of profound personal transformation in the midst of it all.
I enjoy hearing from readers, so don't hesitate to send me your comments through this blog, or you can Contact Me through my website. While you're there, sign up for a copy of my newsletter too! I'll make every effort to respond to you quickly.