The use of the term intelligence for espionage information has always been improper but since it has been repeated so often many people don’t seem to realize it. This isn’t new but regardless of how long the word has been used improperly it is still wrong. It gives the people the impression that the most intelligent way to behave is to keep massive amounts of information that the public needs to make important decisions secret. In order for a democracy to work the public has to be involved in the decision making process. This participation should be based on decisions made with access to any relevant information needed for any given subject including war. In the past there have been many wars that were started based on false assumptions given to the public by their governments. The justification for this has often been the security of the country yet after the facts come out years later it has often turned out not to be true. The use of this term is also often done based on the assumption that the most important aspect about preserving democracy involves fighting. This assumption has always been false as well. While fighting has often been necessary to protect democracy the most important way of preserving and strengthening democracy has always involved educating the public in the most effective and accurate way possible.
Not only is espionage not intelligent but it isn’t efficient either. There has been an enormous amount of effort to spread false information to deceive the other side and the inevitable result is the other side does the same to you. This effectively maintains a system where both sides indirectly participate in actions that prevent anyone including themselves from having access to the information they need to make intelligent decisions. This creates an enormous amount of wasted time and effort for everyone. There is no way to know just how much of a waste this is but there should be no doubt that it is big and the results are far from intelligent quite the opposite it is downright stupid.
The most effective way to put an end to the assumption that espionage is the most effective way of solving problems may involve focusing on the education and non military solutions to build better relations with other countries. This could include more emphasis on programs like Peace Corps, the Marshal Plan (with more input from the public so it isn’t implemented in a corrupt manner) and International Habitat for Humanity. There shouldn’t be much if any need for secrecy for these programs since they aren’t designed to infringe on the rights of others. Unfortunately there still is a controversy therefore there should be a better education program to inform the public how effective they are.
Another way to put an end to the reliance on espionage is to advance democracy worldwide and perhaps establishing more Truth and reconciliation commissions or just Truth commissions that are designed to get the truth out. These should be thought out carefully before they are begun again. Simply having a Truth and reconciliation commission isn’t good enough it is important to get the details right ahead of time on how they will be run. The public needs to be in on the decision making process. They need to be prepared for the type of things that will inevitably come out. There has to be careful consideration of what type of incentives people are given to come out with the truth. This shouldn’t involve allowing people to be in a position where they can continue to infringe on the rights of others. In order for this to work it would almost certainly have to have some form of compensation for those who have been wronged whenever possible. If it isn’t possible the most important thing may be exposing the truth so that disaster will no longer repeat themselves and the public will have the information they need to make their decisions properly. A truth commission isn’t something that should be rushed into unless it is a small scale one that could serve as another test case. Even then it should be done carefully perhaps with a limited scope on a certain subject. The appropriate set up for further truth commissions should be based on a close look at past truth commissions and the problems they ran into. For example the most famous one is the one ran by South Africa. This wound up leaving a large military force free without any training except for military purposes and they became mercenaries many of whom wound up working for Executive Outcomes. These people were later suspected of involvement in additional atrocities. Future truth commissions that leave soldiers out of jail need to involve retaining and possible counseling if necessary.
There also needs to be more education about simple semantics. This is only one of many words the public routinely uses improperly simply because it is repeated over and over again. Another common example is fundamentalism. The word Fundamental means basic. The way many religious people use it implies that everything in the bible is correct. The statement that the bible is correct is not a very basic statement since it applies to a large book with lots of more basics within it. In order to find the basics of the bible you need to look inside at the details one at a time but that is another subject.
This was first posted on 11/18/09 on Tripod.
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