Netwar Against the EZLN

From ricardo dominguez <>
Date Thu, 02 Sep 1999 10:33:43 -0400
Organization The Thing

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 Originally published in La Jornada, 8/29/99
translated by Leslie Lopez
by Lourdes Galaz

Netwar Against the EZLN

*What will you have, Mr. President, beer or Sidral?

*US Advisement in Chiapas

*Netwar against the zapatistas related to low-intensity conflicts

During the electoral campaign, candidate Ernesto Zedillo
visited a market-place in Mexico City.  It was hot out, and
before eating, one of the locals offered him a nice cold beer.
Zedillo accepted appreciatively, but asked him to, "Put it
in a glass for me, so that it looks like Sidral (an apple soda)."
It was at that moment--recalls my friend the anarchist--that
Zedillo's profile and his personal style of governing to
come was made clear.  Even last night, at a gathering
among friends, a general said: "Zedillo needs to define
whether it's beer or Sidral," as far as military strategy in
Chiapas goes.  In some political and academic
circles, people say that for some time now, there
must have been some definition on the part of the
government about confronting the problem of zapatista
guerrilla in Chiapas.  Moreover, the new military offensive
has got to be inscribed in a Zedillista strategy
conducted with US advisement, and is no doubt
framed by the new perspective that US National Defense
Research Institute analysts call "The Advent of Netwar."

And although they say that news from Chiapas
doesn't sell newspapers anymore or open the nightly
news on private television and radio stations, people
are concerned about the issue--above all about what
Mr. President will be having: beer or Sidral?  Five
years ago, in his inaugural speech, Zedillo spoke
about the fact that under his administration there would be
a new opening up of negotiations--following the
failure of the Salinista strategy--"which will bring
us a just, dignified and definitive peace...there will be
no violence on the part of the government, nor, I
trust, on the part of those who have dissented."
Two and a half months later, Zedillo personally
appeared on television, live and direct, to report
on the mobilization of the Army and the federal
Attorney General against the EZLN, led by Rafael
Sebastian Guillen (no relation to Roberto
Albores), el Sup Marcos--now solidly identified
by military intelligence agencies!  From then on,
no one knows what Mr. President is drinking; beer
or Sidral?    There has been no explicit definition
of the Chiapas policy, even though Zedillo has gone
to that southern state a dozen--or more--times.
Whether the San Andres Larrainzar Accords will
be accepted; or actually not, after all.  Whether
it will be dialogue, or there is a massacre in Acteal.
Whether mediation by the Conai is acceptable, or the
Conai is accused of being both a party in the dispute
and a judge.  That the Cocopa should be created,
that it is not functional...and then whether
it should be re-established because there is a
new escalation against the zapatistas and there
are no official groups to deal with the negotiation.
Whether the Minister of Government should
be removed and whether his substitute does
or doesn't come with a pre-set line attached...
Whether there are millions in resources with
which to address Chiapan misery, the
cause and reason for the guerrilla...Whether
it's all about Sedeso and the poor.  Whether
it's the Semarnap and its reforestation of Montes
Azules. Whether the road to Amandor Hernandez
is a federal project, or an act of the state government.
Whether generals are asking if the beer should be
drunk from a glass so it looks like Sidral...

The now-famous road, whose construction
has officially been susbended by Ministry of
Government officials, had previously been
cancelled by zapatista support bases, even
before the hundred soldiers in parachutes
arrived.  The thing is, the community taken
by the Army is a six- hour walk from San
Quintin, a town which you can get to with
a two-hour drive from La Realidad.  Amador
Hernandez is located at the entrace to the
mountain range of the Montes Azules biosphere,
where more than 5,000 soldiers arrived "for a
reforestation project."  According to experts in
military matters, the Army must have detachments
in the EZLN zone of influence amounting to more
than 16,000 soldiers in 13 camps, the majority
set up during the last two months.  Just yesterday,
legislators from the Cocopa, led by Senator
Carlos Payan, flew to the Ocosingo and La
Trinitaria communities of Amador Hernandez
and San Jose la Esperanza (where zapatistas
and soldiers clashed, and the top commander,
Cervantes Aguirre, the Secretary of Defense's
brother, ended up injured).  They went to observe
the situation up close, a project complicated by
the fact that "there is no political will" to re-establish
dialogue between the government--which is presumably
administering the conflict--and the EZLN--which will
not return to the table with someone who didn't fulfill
the first agreements.

While all this is going on, at the suggestion of
some anthropologists and historians who went
to La Realidad for an Encounter for the Defense of
Cultural Patrimony (August 12-14), it is worthwhile
to bring to bear some of the conclusions from the
document, "The Advent of Netwar" (1996), prepared
for the US Secretary of Defense Office by analysts
John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt of the National
Defense Research Institute in Santa Monica,
California.  These analysts say that the
zapatista movement--which rose up in arms on
January first, 1994--has ushered in an epistemological
rupture and a new model which helps us not only
to understand the new movements and social actors
of the 90's, but "to build new concepts necessary to
develop perspectives on military organization, doctrine,
strategies and technologies."  According to the analysts
and military strategists, zapatismo--"born out of the
EZLN"--which has been joined by different sectors
of Mexican and international society, could be
considered a new paradigm, characterizing other
social conflicts in the new world order, now that
the Cold War is over.  They say we need a new
term to focus our attention on the fact that conflicts
and crimes based on network structures are on
the rise.  In this perspective, the term "social
netwar" applied to the EZLN is related to the
low-intensity conflicts at the extreme end of the
social spectrum.

In 1998, the same researchers prepared another
document, "The Zapatista Social Netwar," in
which they warn that netwar "will probably
be the most prevalent and challenging form
of conflict in the emergent information age,"
leading them to recommend a "careful and
sustained" study of the phenomenon.  The
netwar strategy is focused on analyzing and containing,
isolating, de-structuring and immobilizing--and
even annihilating--social networks, like those
pertaining to narcotraffic, to terrorists, and other
delinquent groups.  According to "The Zapatista
Social Netwar," strategy ought to focus not just
on the EZLN, but on all organizations, fronts and
individuals who form part of the broad zapatista
support network (in which leadership is diluted).
Thus, the analysts recommend, all kinds of actions
and tactics should be imposed, from classic
counterinsurgency methods (harrassment, threats,
psychological actions, kidnapings, paramilitary
group attacks, individual executions, etcetera) to
disinformation campaigns, espionage, the
creation of NGO's financed by the government
as a counterpoint to the independent ones (linked to the
network), among others.  If this is the US Secretary
of Defense Office's interest in the netwar of the
third millenium, one understands why high-ranking
Mexican military officers want to know, at the very least,
what Mr. President will be having: beer in a glass so
it looks like Sidral?

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