MySpace Goes to War

| January / February 2008

As the war in Iraq drags on with no real expectation of success or an end, al-Qaida has seen an increase in new recruits from all over the region, who are now able to more easily cross borders to wreak havoc. The situation has U.S. forces scrambling for solutions, which usually involve more firepower and more troops. Middle East expert Peter Bergen, writing in the Fall issue of Democracy Journal, proposes a less explosive idea: Build a social network database the intelligence community can use to track terrorists funneling in and out of Iraq. By tracing the social connections between suicide bombers—including which clerics they studied with, what websites they visited, and where their funding came from—the United States would, argues Bergen, be better able to “monitor, disrupt, and capture terrorists.” While it’s not as sexy as a laser gun, this MySpace-like approach might be the military’s most effective smart bomb.