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Scientific Impulse


The killing of ISIS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by Special Forces of the United States with some cooperation extended by a number of countries should come as an eye-opener for many who believe that terrorism serves as an effective means of bringing political change. The narrative for many ‘experts’ is that forces like the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., represent legitimate political movements that can, over time, form national governments, or create viable nation-states of their own. The truth is that terror as a weapon is effective only when its perpetrators are hidden away from sight. The belief that modern technology can be overcome by fanaticism that inspires political movements, particularly in nations like Pakistan, is misguided and suicidal.
Any person or movement that seeks eventually to be a legitimate political force has to abide by certain conventions. Once the line is crossed, it is becoming very difficult to acquire power for any sustained period of time. This truth is becoming evident for even entrenched undemocratic systems in countries like China (the Hong Kong protests), Saudi Arabia and Iran (the pressure for women’s emancipation), etc. The power of science and technology will only come to those who live under systems that permit democratic functioning and its many freedoms. The more closed the political systems, the less flexibility and depth they have in dealing with the complex challenges of modern life.
In fact, it is only a matter of time before even the ‘nuclear threat’ that several countries hold out, particularly Pakistan, will become ineffective. There probably already is technology available with the US, for example, which would neutralise the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, maybe even India. Systems would simply refuse to respond to pressing of the red button. In ten years, this is going to be a certainty. In effect, it would remove the umbrella that Pakistan uses to defend its patronage of terrorism.
The rise and fall of ISIS indicates how nation-states that have legitimacy beyond just military might will eventually overcome even the deepest mutual differences to confront civilisational threats. It may be noted that most of the countries facing violent inner strife are those that have unrepresentative regimes in power. Each one of these conflicts will eventually find resolution by either matching up to 21st Century technology, or coming into conflict with it. One kind of globalisation may be on the wane, but another is taking its place – that of scientific conformity. Any reactionary inability to cope with this change will prove catastrophic. The product and the consumer will have to find the necessary synchronicity by accepting high technology regimes with global reach.