Trend: Continuous disruption of energy production is difficult to prevent and effectively creates fear and uncertainty among the consumers of energy.
John Robb at the Global Guerrillas blog writes about how sustainable systems disruption targeting energy production is being used by small groups of global guerrillas to undermine the supremacy of powerful nations in a global economy.
Source: Global Guerrillas
The control over the price of oil is in now in the hands of global guerrillas -- the open source, system disrupting, transnational crime fueled, sons of global fragmentation....These actors can now, at will, curtail the supply of oil through low tech attacks on facilities in Iraq, Nigeria, central Asia, and India. The amount of oil effectively under their control exceeds five million barrels a day, more than Saudi Arabia's two million barrels a day of swing production.
Means and Motives
It's important to note that this capacity to disrupt production is substantially different than any terrorist threat we have faced in the past. With terrorism, the potential of damage has always been from single large attack on a major facility or node (extremely difficult to accomplish and relatively easy to recover from). Today's threat is based on sustainable disruption -- ongoing, easy, low-tech attacks that are nearly impossible to defend against (everything from pipeline destruction to employee kidnapping). The goals of these attackers can be divided into three complimentary categories:
- Delegitimization of the target state. Attacks meant to "hollow out" the state, through an inability to deliver critical services or a denial of income/investment, to create zones of local control.
- Coercion of the core Western states. Either to damage the US or a target state through economic means.
- Criminal profit. By increasing the prices of oil and its refined products, the profits generated by criminal enterprise (bunkering of oil, smuggling, etc.) are radically improved.
A New Center of Gravity
The switch to systems disruption also points to a way guerrillas can decisively win wars against nation-states. We can see the outlines of this in the fearful reactions of the Gazprom dependent Europeans to the news of Georgia.
Source: Global Guerrillas
System Disruption meets the Internet
An unfortunate consequence of the war in Iraq has been rapid improvements in the ability of guerrillas to disrupt modern infrastructure (oil, gas, water, telecom, etc.). The wide ranging success of these attacks has eliminated any potential economic gains from the tens of billions of dollars spent on the US reconstruction effort and seriously damaged the legitimacy of both the US occupation force and sequential Iraqi governments. The impact of this reverse "effects-based operation" has not gone unnoticed. Al Qaeda's leadership has made systems disruption a central aspect of its campaign against the West.
Recent information indicates that the concept has become the topic of widespread discussion among members of Jihadi forums. On these forums there is a growing realization that the only way to damage the West strategically (without a nuclear weapon) is through the destruction of critical global economic networks. Stephen Ulph of Jamestown summarizes recent activity on these forums. His group found detailed documents that provide explicit instructions on facilities and pipelines that are termed global "economic joints". For example, one set of instructions provided data on the Alaskan oil distribution infrastructure and recommendations for maximizing the value of the attack.