How fear drives American politics | David Rothkopf | TED Talks


What I’d like to do
is talk to you a little bit about fear and the cost of fear and the age of fear
from which we are now emerging. I would like you to feel comfortable
with my doing that by letting you know that I know something
about fear and anxiety. I’m a Jewish guy from New Jersey. (Laughter) I could worry before I could walk. (Laughter) Please, applaud that. (Applause) Thank you. But I also grew up in a time
where there was something to fear. We were brought out in the hall
when I was a little kid and taught how to put
our coats over our heads to protect us from global
thermonuclear war. Now even my seven-year-old brain
knew that wasn’t going to work. But I also knew that global thermonuclear war
was something to be concerned with. And yet, despite the fact
that we lived for 50 years with the threat of such a war, the response of our government
and of our society was to do wonderful things. We created the space program
in response to that. We built our highway system
in response to that. We created the Internet
in response to that. So sometimes fear can produce
a constructive response. But sometimes it can produce
an un-constructive response. On September 11, 2001, 19 guys took over four airplanes and flew them into a couple of buildings. They exacted a horrible toll. It is not for us to minimize
what that toll was. But the response that we had
was clearly disproportionate — disproportionate to the point
of verging on the unhinged. We rearranged the national security
apparatus of the United States and of many governments to address a threat that,
at the time that those attacks took place, was quite limited. In fact, according to our
intelligence services, on September 11, 2001, there were 100 members of core Al-Qaeda. There were just a few thousand terrorists. They posed an existential threat to no one. But we rearranged our entire
national security apparatus in the most sweeping way
since the end of the Second World War. We launched two wars. We spent trillions of dollars. We suspended our values. We violated international law. We embraced torture. We embraced the idea that if these 19 guys could do this,
anybody could do it. And therefore,
for the first time in history, we were seeing everybody as a threat. And what was the result of that? Surveillance programs that listened in
on the emails and phone calls of entire countries — hundreds of millions of people — setting aside whether
those countries were our allies, setting aside what our interests were. I would argue that 15 years later, since today there are more terrorists, more terrorist attacks,
more terrorist casualties — this by the count
of the U.S. State Department — since today the region
from which those attacks emanate is more unstable
than at any time in its history, since the Flood, perhaps, we have not succeeded in our response. Now you have to ask,
where did we go wrong? What did we do?
What was the mistake that was made? And you might say, well look,
Washington is a dysfunctional place. There are political food fights. We’ve turned our discourse
into a cage match. And that’s true. But there are bigger problems,
believe it or not, than that dysfunction, even though I would argue that dysfunction that makes it impossible
to get anything done in the richest and most powerful
country in the world is far more dangerous than anything
that a group like ISIS could do, because it stops us in our tracks
and it keeps us from progress. But there are other problems. And the other problems came from the fact that in Washington
and in many capitals right now, we’re in a creativity crisis. In Washington, in think tanks, where people are supposed to be
thinking of new ideas, you don’t get bold new ideas, because if you offer up a bold new idea, not only are you attacked on Twitter, but you will not get confirmed
in a government job. Because we are reactive to the heightened
venom of the political debate, you get governments that have
an us-versus-them mentality, tiny groups of people making decisions. When you sit in a room with a small group
of people making decisions, what do you get? You get groupthink. Everybody has the same worldview, and any view from outside of the group
is seen as a threat. That’s a danger. You also have processes
that become reactive to news cycles. And so the parts of the U.S. government
that do foresight, that look forward, that do strategy — the parts in other governments
that do this — can’t do it, because they’re reacting
to the news cycle. And so we’re not looking ahead. On 9/11, we had a crisis
because we were looking the wrong way. Today we have a crisis because,
because of 9/11, we are still looking
in the wrong direction, and we know because we see
transformational trends on the horizon that are far more important
than what we saw on 9/11; far more important than the threat
posed by these terrorists; far more important even
than the instability that we’ve got in some areas of the world
that are racked by instability today. In fact, the things that we are seeing
in those parts of the world may be symptoms. They may be a reaction to bigger trends. And if we are treating the symptom
and ignoring the bigger trend, then we’ve got far bigger
problems to deal with. And so what are those trends? Well, to a group like you, the trends are apparent. We are living at a moment
in which the very fabric of human society is being rewoven. If you saw the cover of The Economist
a couple of days ago — it said that 80 percent
of the people on the planet, by the year 2020, would have a smartphone. They would have a small computer
connected to the Internet in their pocket. In most of Africa, the cell phone
penetration rate is 80 percent. We passed the point last October when there were more
mobile cellular devices, SIM cards, out in the world than there were people. We are within years
of a profound moment in our history, when effectively every single
human being on the planet is going to be part of a man-made
system for the first time, able to touch anyone else — touch them for good, touch them for ill. And the changes associated with that
are changing the very nature of every aspect of governance
and life on the planet in ways that our leaders
ought to be thinking about, when they’re thinking about
these immediate threats. On the security side, we’ve come out of a Cold War in which
it was too costly to fight a nuclear war, and so we didn’t, to a period that I call
Cool War, cyber war, where the costs of conflict are actually
so low, that we may never stop. We may enter a period of constant warfare, and we know this because
we’ve been in it for several years. And yet, we don’t have the basic doctrines
to guide us in this regard. We don’t have the basic ideas formulated. If someone attacks us with a cyber attack, do have the ability to respond
with a kinetic attack? We don’t know. If somebody launches a cyber attack,
how do we deter them? When China launched
a series of cyber attacks, what did the U.S. government do? It said, we’re going to indict
a few of these Chinese guys, who are never coming to America. They’re never going to be anywhere near
a law enforcement officer who’s going to take them into custody. It’s a gesture — it’s not a deterrent. Special forces operators
out there in the field today discover that small groups
of insurgents with cell phones have access to satellite imagery
that once only superpowers had. In fact, if you’ve got a cell phone, you’ve got access to power
that a superpower didn’t have, and would have highly
classified 10 years ago. In my cell phone,
I have an app that tells me where every plane in the world is,
and its altitude, and its speed, and what kind of aircraft it is, and where it’s going
and where it’s landing. They have apps that allow them to know what their adversary is about to do. They’re using these tools in new ways. When a cafe in Sydney
was taken over by a terrorist, he went in with a rifle… and an iPad. And the weapon was the iPad. Because he captured people,
he terrorized them, he pointed the iPad at them, and then he took the video
and he put it on the Internet, and he took over the world’s media. But it doesn’t just affect
the security side. The relations between great powers — we thought we were past the bipolar era. We thought we were in a unipolar world, where all the big issues were resolved. Remember? It was the end of history. But we’re not. We’re now seeing that our
basic assumptions about the Internet — that it was going to connect us,
weave society together — are not necessarily true. In countries like China,
you have the Great Firewall of China. You’ve got countries saying no,
if the Internet happens within our borders we control it within our borders. We control the content.
We are going to control our security. We are going to manage that Internet. We are going to say what can be on it. We’re going to set
a different set of rules. Now you might think,
well, that’s just China. But it’s not just China. It’s China, India, Russia. It’s Saudi Arabia,
it’s Singapore, it’s Brazil. After the NSA scandal, the Russians,
the Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians, they said, let’s create
a new Internet backbone, because we can’t be dependent
on this other one. And so all of a sudden, what do you have? You have a new bipolar world in which cyber-internationalism, our belief, is challenged by cyber-nationalism, another belief. We are seeing these changes
everywhere we look. We are seeing the advent of mobile money. It’s happening in the places
you wouldn’t expect. It’s happening in Kenya and Tanzania, where millions of people who haven’t
had access to financial services now conduct all those
services on their phones. There are 2.5 million people
who don’t have financial service access that are going to get it soon. A billion of them are going
to have the ability to access it on their cell phone soon. It’s not just going to give them
the ability to bank. It’s going to change
what monetary policy is. It’s going to change what money is. Education is changing in the same way. Healthcare is changing in the same way. How government services are delivered
is changing in the same way. And yet, in Washington, we are debating whether to call the terrorist group
that has taken over Syria and Iraq ISIS or ISIL or Islamic State. We are trying to determine how much we want to give
in a negotiation with the Iranians on a nuclear deal which deals
with the technologies of 50 years ago, when in fact, we know that the Iranians
right now are engaged in cyber war with us and we’re ignoring it, partially
because businesses are not willing to talk about the attacks
that are being waged on them. And that gets us to another breakdown that’s crucial, and another breakdown that couldn’t be
more important to a group like this, because the growth of America
and real American national security and all of the things that drove progress
even during the Cold War, was a public-private partnership
between science, technology and government that began when Thomas Jefferson
sat alone in his laboratory inventing new things. But it was the canals
and railroads and telegraph; it was radar and the Internet. It was Tang, the breakfast drink — probably not the most important
of those developments. But what you had was
a partnership and a dialogue, and the dialogue has broken down. It’s broken down because in Washington, less government is considered more. It’s broken down because there is,
believe it or not, in Washington, a war on science — despite the fact that
in all of human history, every time anyone has waged
a war on science, science has won. (Applause) But we have a government
that doesn’t want to listen, that doesn’t have people
at the highest levels that understand this. In the nuclear age, when there were people
in senior national security jobs, they were expected to speak throw-weight. They were expected to know
the lingo, the vocabulary. If you went to the highest level
of the U.S. government now and said, “Talk to me about cyber,
about neuroscience, about the things that are going
to change the world of tomorrow,” you’d get a blank stare. I know, because when I wrote this book, I talked to 150 people,
many from the science and tech side, who felt like they were being
shunted off to the kids’ table. Meanwhile, on the tech side, we have lots of wonderful people
creating wonderful things, but they started in garages
and they didn’t need the government and they don’t want the government. Many of them have a political view
that’s somewhere between libertarian and anarchic: leave me alone. But the world’s coming apart. All of a sudden, there are going to be
massive regulatory changes and massive issues
associated with conflict and massive issues associated
with security and privacy. And we haven’t even gotten
to the next set of issues, which are philosophical issues. If you can’t vote,
if you can’t have a job, if you can’t bank,
if you can’t get health care, if you can’t be educated
without Internet access, is Internet access a fundamental right
that should be written into constitutions? If Internet access is a fundamental right, is electricity access for the 1.2 billion
who don’t have access to electricity a fundamental right? These are fundamental issues.
Where are the philosophers? Where’s the dialogue? And that brings me
to the reason that I’m here. I live in Washington. Pity me. (Laughter) The dialogue isn’t happening there. These big issues
that will change the world, change national security,
change economics, create hope, create threats, can only be resolved
when you bring together groups of people who understand
science and technology back together with government. Both sides need each other. And until we recreate that connection, until we do what helped America grow
and helped other countries grow, then we are going to grow
ever more vulnerable. The risks associated with 9/11
will not be measured in terms of lives lost by terror attacks or buildings destroyed
or trillions of dollars spent. They’ll be measured in terms of the costs
of our distraction from critical issues and our inability to get together scientists, technologists,
government leaders, at a moment of transformation
akin to the beginning of the Renaissance, akin to the beginning
of the major transformational eras that have happened on Earth, and start coming up with,
if not the right answers, then at least the right questions. We are not there yet, but discussions like this
and groups like you are the places where those questions
can be formulated and posed. And that’s why I believe
that groups like TED, discussions like this around the planet, are the place where the future
of foreign policy, of economic policy, of social policy, of philosophy,
will ultimately take place. And that’s why it’s been
a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you very, very much. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How fear drives American politics | David Rothkopf | TED Talks

  1. "We embraced the idea that if these 19 guys could do this, then anyone could do it" so we started doing it.

  2. Nice talk… But implying that 19 Arab guys flew 4 airplanes to crashes is buying the lie. Not one body or one piece of any passenger plane or even one piece of luggage that took off that morning was ever found. The first time in history no evidence was found from a plane crash and it happened 4 times in the same day. Also no skyscraper has ever collapsed due to fire or explosions ever in the history of tall buildings and three collapsed in a thermite enduced perfectly timed explosions that detonated and collapsed these indestructible structures in a 6 to 10 second downfall and one did not even get hit by a plane. If he had started the talk out with the truth then the talk would have much more credibility.

  3. all is lost, the world is under total surveillance, every single person has a security file, the security apparatus will never let go of the power they've cleaved, the corporation is total

  4. This video is good, specially about the people being connected and the new possibilities
    but american politics itself has several layers
    and this is one of them

  5. What you hear from the people in Washington is a very accurate reflection of the people who elected the people in Washington, aka The American Voter.

  6. Fear politics. Driving people to deadly government (bernie sanders: USA) and (thomas mulcair: Canada).

    Those of us that are fiscally conservative are rather upset at how they are driving those people away to the far left and socialism. Thanks idiot right wing government for ruining it for those of us that are not stupid.

  7. Watch Fahrenheit 9/11 to see how Michael Moore and many others like him were trying to uncover the Govt using fear mongering to pass the Patriot Act.

  8. "We're trying to determine how much we want to give in a negotiation with the Iranians on a nuclear deal that deals with the technologies of fifty years ago when in fact we know that right now the Iranians are engaged in a cyber war with us, and we're ignoring it, partially because becauses businesses are not willing to to talk about the attacks that are being waged on them"

    Poor America under attack, paralyzed by this dastardly war waged on it by Iran….except that the U.S. & Israel through their massive cyber attack Stuxnet set a new precedent in driving forward cyber warfare by letting loose a worm that destroyed Iranian centrifuges (alongside the more traditional assassination of their scientists of course – though one might debate if the U.S. or just Israel is responsible for this). Poor America indeed.

    If we're going to have this discussion, let's have it honestly.

  9. With most TED talks having around 95% upvote ratio and me being usually in that 5% (I'm somehwat a TED critic) I want to tell mr David Rothkopf, You go an upvote from me.

  10. Don't be fooled, this guy is spreading more fear than he is stopping.
    He reminds me of when FOX news described every detail of the ebola outbreak and then said "DO NOT PANIC".

    If you wanna know about fear driving a nation don't listen to a guy with fear in his bones, who even says so himself. He manages to speak about fear in the context of subtly blaming the population rather than the systems they feed. He manages to talk about fear driving a nation without mentioning that that's the exact plan of their government – to talk about 911 without mentioning that building 7 was reported to have fallen on 3 different news channels before it fell. He managed to talk about terrorism being a larger threat than it was despite the massive surveillance operation yielding NOT ONE real terrorist crime (actually discussed in a previous ted talk!)

    But most of all – he managed to paint a picture of how fear could create terrible things – things to be feared. 18minutes of phobophobia.

  11. 16:59 – "I live in Washington. …".
    And I live in the Australian Capital Territory.
    Both Federal capitals are heavily & secretly dominated by the military-industrial complexes. This is "normal" (statistically) for "nations" on Planet Earth.
    The Number-One industry on this planet ("Law & Order") can only thrive with enough cannon-fodder (Health, Education & Welfare). As long as H-E-W fail, then the military bullies must rely on unplanned & unwanted pregnancies, & the religious groups which encourage the continuing failures in H-E-W.
    "Good" religious groups demanding mindless baby factories believe in "miracles", "prayer", & suppression of logical, rational planning. Australia is blest now with the last two elected Heads of State (Prime Ministers Abbott & Turnbull) being good Roman Catholics, like my father was before his first wife divorced him.

    "Long Live the Queen" (of England, Australia, Canada, etc. & Head of the Church of England in all the British colonies). Onwards all good X'n soldiers, marching as to war. War on non-X'ns, foreigners & foreign looking people.
    Our democratically elected Federal governments have declared war of sympathizers of the Foreigners, like Edward Joseph "Ed" Snowden (USA), Julian Paul Assange (Australian politician). Long live X'n democracies!

  12. Thanks… Make folks think again and realize this Constitutional Republic is in deep crap and those who Can, Should.
    And I'm not talking about, "Yes We Can" either. Just ask, "Who is your real father"? There are rats in the grain; House cleaning starts NOW.

    Look at the movie, "Dreams from My Real Father"

  13. No you don't have an app that tells you where every plane is and where it's going. You don't have that for the vast majority of military planes. Saying otherwise is a gross exaggeration and unnecessary to make your point.

  14. That was like chewing through cardboard. I was very interested at beginning but what a waste! No ideas or insights just blabber blabber of old known facts by an old guy who thinks he's very wise and important because he's very well connected with people of "influence". Come on TED! You can do better!

  15. Sorry David but when trump gets in America is going to go backwards and fast. You won't be able to have a discussion in congress unless it has origins in the Old Testament, or concerns military strength.

  16. Haha "they inflicted a terrible toll" though not as terrible as the toll America inflicts on itself each year with gun violence

  17. Interesting talk. But I have to say that there is no such thing as Russian firewall. We have laws about internet censorship but they don't work at all.

  18. One thing that's ironic: the Taliban and Isis were trained and armed by Americans…

    And probably the next terrorist groups will be as well… Seems like American culture needs that.

  19. This may just have been the best TED talk I have ever watched. oO

    The way he connects different important topics is amazing.

  20. America restricts content as well, they also wage cyber war on behalf of the MPAA. I know they are not popular talking points but need to be discussed.

  21. The premise behind the challenge is at least half wrong. Government is not working in the new century because it conforms to a hierarchical control structure. The future, as Rothkopf points out in referring to TED, is the network of intelligence coordinated by its participants. What does that mean for governments, politicians, and bureaucrats? It's means transforming such institutions away from hierarchies and top-down problem-solving. In means constraining the power of these institutions through checks and balances and competition.

    Yet, Rothkopf advises more coordination between govt, technology, and science, which implies more centralized control over the process. Those days are gone. It's almost as if we look at the postwar period of global politics in the latter 1940s and say, "We need that world again." Those days are gone, and good riddance. Let freedom ring and the chips will fall where they will.

  22. It's not just about philosophical issues or changing social conditions, it's about the influence of a criminal sociopathological influence on society. We have parasites crippling what could be a functioning society and no amount of reinterpretation is going to change that.

  23. I clicked like before I even watch the video since I'm an international student in the US for a while and I know for a fact that they fear pretty much every thing, from the epola to a sudanease guy who invited a clock

  24. Excellent talk! I was so taken by his intelligence I looked him up. I'll be following him more. Thank you Mr. Rothkopf for your work and your voice.

  25. I don't suprise that this politic guy spreads fear just like what north Korea does. You just draw individual's attention to a virtual enemy. Please stop cheating and fix your civil problems in a proper way.

  26. No freedom to privacy & freedom of expression. That is what 9/11 means to me. As it applies to most people yet as a Canadian, I would say we`re halfway there. But a native Canadian, more than halfway..

  27. So…what's the point here….TED has really gone down. It used to be good. A good philsophy show is Stefan Molyneux. Watch it!

  28. Internet and electricity a fundamental right? No. No one's rights make a positive claim on the product of someone else's labor. Great talk.

  29. I've had arguments with Americans on YouTube about gun control and all there argument seems to be is 2nd amendment and they are "free." Do some Americans think the British are coming back or something? I don't see how guns can be more important than free universal healthcare and the fact when u see American media outlets drive this irrational fear of let's be honest everything, makes people think around the world think that alot of Americans are irrational eccentric Christians who have a problem with everybody. FYI I'm Christian

  30. the problem with this country is that we've allowed multinational corporations have took our jobs to foreign countries. Instead of investing the 600 billion dollars on infrastructure and etc. The U.S is building schools and etc in the middle East. were being condition to think that ISIS is the enemy when you have a better chance of getting killed by a bee sting than you do getting killed by Terrorist. Check the numbers. There are 44 people dying everyday in the U.S. but I don't here any politician talking about that. ISIS isn't as powerful as they claim. We spent 4 trillion dollars on two wars and have lost 5,000 soldiers. Companies like Haliburton and others are the only one that benefited from this. Just think if we could have invested the money here instead of building airplanes we don't need. We are our own worst enemies because we fight amongst each other instead of going after the one who have lied to us. Another problem is people don't vote.

  31. The U.S. obviously destabilized the middle east under the W. Bush administration. There's nothing more important to Americans, at the moment, than the threat, in America, posed by islamic terrorists, hence the popularity of Mr.Trump. Cyber-nationalism sounds good to me. We need "fortress-America". Get rid of the enemy within, don't let the enemy from without get in. It is unacceptable, to most Americans, that murderers are going to come, or even be from here, and kill Americans. If there's much more of it, I'm afraid that it will get quite ugly.

  32. PLEASE READ THIS AND UP-VOTE IF YOU CARE ABOUT EFFECTIVE PUBLIC CONVERSATION: No one seems to think about this or care (especially Youtube), but the fact that Youtube sets the comment-sort setting default to "Top Comments" instead of "Newest First" (a setting that probably 95% of people don't even notice) essentially KILLS real conversation. It reduces the possibility of real conversation to hundreds of people barraging the select few (who got lucky enough to comment and get an up-vote or 2 early after the video's posting) with comments and disproportionately large amounts of more up-votes, simply because they were there early on. Everyone else, regardless of how valid or insightful their comment is, gets buried in a sea of comments never to be seen, simply because most people aren't aware of, or don't understand the true utility of, switching the comment-sort to "Newest First." Don't believe me? Switch to "Newest First" and you'll see that hardly any comments have even a single like (because no one saw them). I don't know why I'm still going on, because probably no one will ever see this. Please message Youtube if you see this and care.

  33. If you do not understand, that is okya. The one and only thing that is being said is, Think for yourself, understand what you can, and fight for what you believe in. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS FOR YOU TO KNOW, IS WHAT YOU KNOW IS WRIGHT. THERE IS A RIGHT & WRONG. By the way, the spelling was intended.

  34. Or rather, how the media is used to initiate, catalyze, produce, and advertise fear for Big Gov and Big Bus to get what they want, together.

  35. He doesn't need to admit at the start to being Jewish ? people can work that out from the lies in this speech !

  36. It's true that American government that entered The Jewish into Palastine and took it from it's people and act to be innocent. so fake America

  37. Am I the only one who finds it hypocritical for a Jewish man to be blaming the American government for the never ending wars after 9/11/2001, when Ariel Sharon stated on October 3, 2001, “Every time we do something you tell me Americans will do this and will do that. I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/01/11/burying-sharon/

  38. Reuniting science with government is not complete without incorporating the humanities. Knowing what we can accomplish needs to be tempered by knowing if we should. Our values are not adequately represented by science or government alone.

  39. This is our video blog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLgLT00xq8A

    Regarding#fear
    Like and subscribe to our channel

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFuvCBxmUYaaahIQzLUXfsw

    i will do the same

  40. If you want REAL change, and to kick these Internationalist pretenders who are pretending to be American's, out of Our Country, now is the time to act… I'm running for the 2020, anyone wants to know what I'm about, Google Harold McBroom In Reverence to Thee click on obvious link, when page loads, click on Candidate Harold J. McBroom

  41. 19 Islamist extremists most of whom came from Saudi Arabia flew those airplanes into buildings that killed thousands. You miss a key part of the story if you leave out that in the minds of those 19 individuals they were doing God's work. I agree with you that the wars and trillions US spent did not solve the problem of Islamist extremist killers that want to kill those who do not believe as they do – including other Muslims.

  42. These people build the nuclear technology that insure the power behind a country and they seem concerned about its progress and their progress …

  43. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE4tLYRC_0

    this is good japanease politician .his name is taro yamamoto .
    how do you feel him ?

  44. I don't lose sleep for the kids sewing my sheets, or the ones stitching my sneaks, as long as I can buy 'em both cheap. American privilege, is blurring my vision, inherited sickness. Bish, don’t kill my vibe.

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