Overall Approach to Method

The general approach to method in this thesis is critical, multiperspectival, synthetic, non-objective (subjective), qualitative, bottom-up and hermeneutical (interpretive). It is critical both in the more straightforward sense of emerging from critical media theory, but also in being critical of method, of epistemology, or more precisely of the western modern tradition of achieving knowledge through the application of scientific methods of inquiry and the pursuit of truth with a capital “T.”

The approach to method is multiperspectival and synthetic in that it chooses from several paths and merges them to suit the purposes of this project. This approach has been called the case-study method or it can be called investigative journalism or it simply can be known as the process of gathering, processing, and distributing information.

The approach is not objective. A subjective position is clear throughout this project. The approach is political. A political perspective and stance toward the content, toward the work should ring throughout. It is not objective not only because it wants to be, but because it believes there is no other way. Objectivity is an illusion. (Herman and Chomsky 1988) Rather than hide behind it, it is better to acknowledge this limitation and pursue a reasoned position.

Tired of the dichotomous quality:quantity mode of thinking, but nevertheless needing to assert a view, this approach is qualitative. Numbers shall not prove certainty. Numbers may emerge, but as they will, not out of an obedience to codify all reality with numerals.

It comes from below. The approach is bottom-up. It is anti-elite and anti-State. Where there is the dialectic of control, the pendulum swinging between the extremes of control and resistance, this thesis sides with the dominated, not the dominators. This project moves through text and territory primarily in the domain of the progenitors of social control. The point is to capture their “knowledge” and twist it back.

Hermeneutical, or simply interpretive, this thesis believes in the individual’s ability to make sense of the world. Passing judgment, attributing meaning, seeing between the lines, these are the characteristics of critical consciousness. To interpret is to see. This thesis sees a dangerous situation in Mexico and a corporate government in the United States that wants to make sure order is maintained.

Taken together these approaches paint an irreverent picture of method. But it is one that feels right and it works. On a more cautious note here is a positive critique of a method employed by a fellow researcher at the University of Texas also working in the areas of the U.S. military and Mexico.

On Dunn’s Method

Tim Dunn’s recent book The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border 1978-1992: Low Intensity Conflict Doctrine Comes Home is similar to this thesis in that it examines the U.S. military in relation to Mexico. (Dunn 1996) Dunn focuses on this militarization in terms of two phenomena: the war on drugs and the war against immigrants. But his book also provides useful commentary on methodology that relates to the method used in this work. In his appendix, "Theoretical and Methodological Considerations”, Dunn admits that the focus of his research is "unconventional" and that therefore there are no "overarching theoretical or methodological frameworks" that address his topic. Consequently, Dunn chooses an “eclectic” methodological approach. Method in this thesis is also eclectic.

Dunn's "general methodological framework" is the case study. He borrows Orum, Feagin, and Sjoberg's definition for the case study: "an in-depth, multi-faceted investigation, using qualitative research methods, of a single social phenomenon.” (Orum, Feagin, and Sjoberg 1991) This conception of method is suited to this thesis that deals with communication and information technologies, war and conflict, and contemporary Mexico. A multi-perspectival research topic warrants a multi-faceted investigation.

Dunn writes that the case study method allows the researcher to "deal with the reality behind appearances" and to investigate "many vital features of powerful bureaucracies." The case study method "was particularly helpful in gaining a greater understanding of the complex research issues here, which are largely centered in bureaucratic policies and practices, and also in constructing a critical analysis of those practices and policies." This applies to this work. Much of what is written about Information Warfare doctrine, the Drug War in Latin America, or U.S. military policy toward Mexico comes from bureaucratic policy and practice.

Appealing is Dunn's interpretation that the case study method has as its "primary goal" the idea of contributing "to the extension and refinement of public debate in a democratic social order." It is very similar to the primary goal of investigative journalism, which is another way to describe this method.

Dunn's notion of the case study method as a vehicle for engaging public debate in a democratic society derives from Sjoberg et al in "The Case Study Approach in Social Research: Basic Methodological Issues.” (Sjoberg, Williams, Vaughan, and Sjoberg 1991) In a footnote, Dunn writes that "these authors propose the stimulation of public debate as a standard for assessing social theory, which they view as inherently embedded in methodological approaches of all types." It is the hope that this thesis, or work that derives from it, will help contribute to public debate over the way in which the United States is assisting Mexico militarily.

As mentioned already, Dunn's "main research focus" is on bureaucracies, mainly U.S. government agencies. He asserts as a premise that the "policies and practices" of bureaucracies aimed at controlling the border "deserve substantial critical attention." Here too, in this thesis, much of the focus is on the written products of bureaucracies.

Dunn points, though, to difficulties in researching bureaucracies stemming from the fact that bureaucracies quite often do not want to divulge all information about their practice and policies. Because of this, Dunn says "unfortunately, it was possible only to suggest and initially probe the complex relationships between the bureaucratic power structures examined here." The limitations imposed by reliance on bureaucracies as sources and the necessity to have to infer or suggest are true for this thesis. One example is the role of U.S. Special Forces in Mexico. The U.S. Department of Defense’s 1995 annual report stated that the Special Forces have been deployed to numerous Latin American countries as part of the Pentagon’s hemispheric counternarcotics efforts. But the report doesn’t list the specific countries. (U.S. Department of Defense 1995) Other evidence, both government reports and independent research, shows that the Pentagon and U.S law enforcement agencies are deeply involved in anti-drug activity in Mexico. (Doyle 1993; U.S. Department of State 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997) But even though the U.S. role in the Drug War in Mexico is significant, it is difficult or even impossible to find a government report stating the Special Forces have been deployed in Mexico, or to find a secondary source that has been able to deduce this. Lumsdaine’s (1995) discussion on U.S. military assistance to Mexico is the only reference this research has discovered that eludes to the involvement of the Special Forces. If there were actual proof that Special Forces had been deployed to Mexico under the guise of the Drug War, this knowledge would be detrimental for the governments of the United States and Mexico. Publicity of U.S. troops active on the ground in Mexico, in whatever capacity, would fuel anti-American nationalism in Mexico and anti-interventionism in the United States.

Dunn's sources included government documents, "especially congressional hearing testimony," and "mainstream and alternative press reports, military journals and selected documents, critical analyses of U.S. military doctrines and practices in Latin America." This thesis uses similar sources as Dunn's work. Much of the material gathered for parts of this thesis consists of government documents, press reports, journal articles, and notes from interviews.

A systematic method that Dunn uses requiring inordinate amounts of time is an "investigative strategy" of "pouring over" written bureaucratic records. This process involves comparing the text of "official positions" of various bureaucracies with texts from other government documents and other sources. Dunn states that the purpose of this technique is to produce inconsistencies and contradictions that can "provide greater insight into particular bureaucratic practices and policies." One of Dunn's conclusions from his research and investigation using these methods was that "vital information is also deliberately withheld from public view, especially regarding the U.S. military's support of drug enforcement efforts." As this thesis is also concerned, in part, with the U.S. military connection to drug enforcement efforts in Mexico, there are no illusions that the full story appears in government reports on the subject.

Method on Information Warfare

A more thorough elaboration of the concepts and definitions of Information Warfare is necessary so as to provide more accurate understandings when speaking of new communication and information technologies that are integral to Information Warfare doctrine and strategy.

There are several truths about Information Warfare doctrine and strategy that ought to be considered in developing a method for continued research in this area. First, the vast majority of the literature on the subject of Information Warfare is written from the perspective of the military establishment. There are very few analyses on the subject drawn from a critical perspective. Second, a significant portion of the literature on Information Warfare can be found on web sites on the Net. Most of the material located on web sites are reproductions of articles or reports written by scholars at RAND, the National Defense University, branches of the Department of Defense, and other defense related agencies. (Arquilla and Ronfeldt 1993; Berkowitz 1995; Garigue 1996; Libicki 1996; Swett 1995) Some of the literature on the Net is produced by independent scholars and journalists. (Brandt 1995; Corn 1996; Haeni 1995; Magsig 1995) Thirdly, because of the emergent nature Information Warfare, because it is a relatively new field, there is not widespread agreement or standardization of key concepts and components. (Evers 1996)

It is fairly easy to locate military establishment web sites containing documents, analyses, and reports on Information Warfare, but it is more difficult to ascertain the common discourse or thread that runs through this literature. Some analysts define two primary categories of Information Warfare – cyberwar and netwar – (Arquilla and Ronfeldt 1993) while others identify a multitude of categories. (Libicki 1995) A conceptual problem is to distill from the contrasting literature on Information Warfare a working set of definitions. (Pike 1996)

It is instructive to turn to the technologies utilized by the U.S. military establishment and its allies in the assault on Iraq during the Gulf War, referred to by some as the first information war. (Campen 1992) During this ‘war’, military surveillance, navigation, and weapon deployment were heavily reliant on computers, telecommunication systems, satellites, global positioning systems, and night vision. (Bogard 1996) A further examination of the technologies used in the Gulf War and the technologies described in the literature on Information Warfare establishes more clearly the types of communication and information technologies essential for attaining Information Warfare capability.

A caveat should be noted here. Information Warfare capability in the broad sense – that which goes outside strictly military considerations – is not solely a function of growth in sophisticated information-based military technologies. Information Warfare is a fusion of military capability and other capabilities developed in the non-military private and public sectors. (Nichiporuk and Builder 1995) For example, Netwar, the application of the Net, or the Internet, to purposes of political communication by resistant anti-State actors is an activity that has been developed outside the military establishment. (Arquilla and Ronfeldt 1996) This capability is a function of the densities of the telephone system and the penetration of computers. In rural Mexico phone density is low and most people don’t have computers. Nevertheless, the Zapatistas in Chiapas and their supporters have been able to exploit the Net to their own advantage.

Method on the Drug War and the Mexican Military

The general focus of this thesis is to ascertain the extent to which the United States, under the umbrella of the Drug War, is aiding the Mexican government in developing its Information Warfare capabilities. In order to address this problem, this thesis will try to accomplish the following:

U.S. military assistance to Mexico can be discovered by looking carefully in, for example, the following areas: sale, donation, or loan of military equipment and hardware; donation or loan of money to be used for purchase of military equipment; deployment of U.S. advisors or U.S. troops; U.S. training of Mexican forces in Mexico, in the United States, or at other foreign military bases.

Because the Drug War has replaced the war on communism as the primary ideological rationale for continued U.S. military intervention in Latin America and Mexico (Castañeda, J. 1993; Johns 1992; Ross 1995), it is logical to presume that the Drug War serves as a means for the greatest amount of military assistance. On a hemispheric level this has been the case. (Mabry 1988, 1990, 1994, 1996) This thesis identifies primary and secondary sources that point to the hemispheric Drug War as the instrument for expansion of computer-based communication and information technologies that are key technologies of Information Warfare. It makes sense that the greatest expansion of Information Warfare technologies in Mexico has occurred vis a vis the expansion of the Drug War. The extent of these technologies along the U.S.-Mexico border is a predictor, or model, for similar kinds of technologies found in the interior of Mexico. (Dunn 1996) While the U.S. armed forces are important to the militarization of the Drug War, both in Mexico and on a hemispheric level, other U.S. agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the State Department, play an important role in the Drug War and in the transference of technology and technological knowledge to Mexico. (Doyle 1993; U.S. Department of State 1997)

By concentrating on the Drug War as the route for technological military assistance this thesis encompasses more than the U.S. armed forces and includes a variety of interconnected federal agencies as both subjects and sources of information. Therefore, the concept of military assistance in this thesis is not narrowly restricted to military assistance coming from the Pentagon.

The initial method used to discover the extent of U.S. military assistance to Mexico was a survey of U.S. and Mexican secondary sources in English and Spanish including newspapers, magazines, journals, theses, dissertations, and books, found in libraries at the University of Texas, in Mexico City, on web sites and email listservs. Interviews and discussions with academics, activists, and journalists in Mexico helped form an approach and frame the understandings. Primary sources consulted include government reports from the General Accounting Office, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of State. Direct interviews with government officials at these agencies might have be useful. However, this was beyond the scope of this master’s thesis.

As mentioned in relation to Dunn, because of the nature of bureaucracies – to facilitate and to serve the purposes of the system in which it is embedded – reliance on governmental bureaucracies as sources perhaps may only reveal knowledge already in the public domain. Nevertheless, sufficient knowledge exists as to what constitutes Information Warfare technology and as to what sorts of technology the United States provides to Mexico so as to make a basic argument regarding the extent of U.S. assistance in shaping Mexico's Information Warfare trajectory.

By comparing a list of technologies, technological know-how, funding, and support that comes under the broad category of U.S. military assistance to Mexico – not just from the Pentagon – against a list of technologies that comprise those necessary for Information Warfare capacity it is possible to judge whether none, few, some, many, or all U.S. assistance is in the realm of Information Warfare.


Theory in this thesis serves as an intellectual guide. It is not the intention that this thesis will prove or disprove any particular theory. Rather theory here informs and directs some of the overarching perspectives and approaches. There are numerous theories which this thesis implicitly entertains, yet only some of the more central theories that deal with issues of technology, social control, and domination are evident. (Dandeker 1990; Horkheimer and Adorno 1996; Foucault 1995; Giddens 1995; Lyon and Zureik 1996; Marcuse 1991; Marx 1976; Poster 1990; Rule 1974; Webster and Robins 1986)

As eluded to above, by suggesting a plurality of perspectives, theory in this thesis is multiperspectival. The mulitperspectival theory approach is advanced by Kellner (1995, 1997) There is no adherence to any one particular school of thought and even certain theoretical traditions at odds with one another are included. For example, the Frankfurt School’s critical theorists and Post Modern theorists have had antagonistic relations, yet both are seen as having value. (Kellner 1997) Synthetic multiperspectival approaches used herein are inclusive of antagonistic theories and provide a dialectic through which research material is examined.

There is unity in the theoretical perspectives presented below in the sense that they are all critical of the status quo. Moreover, they provide the basis for much of what is radical social theory today. The multiperspectival approach of this thesis is entirely critical. This includes the approach to method, to epistemology, and to the substantive content presented in this thesis, that of the military-informational-complex and just a few of its offshoots: the Drug War and Information Warfare.

An important perspective of this thesis proposes that theory can be employed as a weapon for change. (Kellner 1995; Kellner 1997) A corollary of this is that if theory has no use-value as a social weapon, then it is a non-applicable intellectual construct – stagnant theory. It is hoped that the finished product of this thesis will not end up on a dusty shelf in a library, but rather will contribute to discourse and action by individuals and organizations opposed to U.S. military intervention in Mexico or related projects.

Another underlying belief in this thesis is the concept of self-theory. A pamphlet titled Revolutionary Self-Theory defined it as “the body of critical thought you construct for your own use. You construct it and use it when you make an analysis of why your life is the way it is, why the world is the way it is.” (Spectacular Times 1992) Before becoming familiar with particular named theories, I drew on my own body of critical self-theory. This next section adds to the body of critical perspectives which I have attained outside the academy. These are an important selection of theories of social domination and control. They serve as guides; points from which to launch into Information Warfare.


Among the primary theoretical perspectives running throughout this thesis, implicitly and explicitly, are those that help to explain the role that technology has in maintaining social control. Technology is central to Information Warfare. Information Warfare is at its core about maintaining dominance of one social group over another. It is therefore logical to pursue the critical thinking that attempts to explain and theorize the way in which technology serves as such an instrument. As of yet there are few critical theoretical works on the subject of Information Warfare. The body of literature on Information Warfare, which we will see in more detail later, is almost entirely written from the perspectives of adherents to the military-informational-complex. It is necessary, therefore, to look to relevant theoretical approaches that say nothing about Information Warfare per se, but from which perspectives can be extrapolated to begin a critical interrogation of the subject. The summary below surveys theories on capitalism and control, technology and domination, surveillance, simulation, and hegemony.

On Capitalism and Control

Marx’s Capital (1976) remains the most incisive analysis and dissection of capitalism, the overarching system of social control, the system that imposes work. Capitalism has manifested itself as a system in which people dominate nature and in which capital dominates people. Through industry, science, technology, and labor, people coerce nature to take the form of products and commodities.

The system of capitalist production when it began to function on a mass scale necessarily took on a hierarchical form that acts as one bureaucratic organism. At the top of the chain of command are the owners. Directly beneath the owners are the managers and petty bureaucrats. Beneath the pencil pushers may be another intermediary level of authority, such as foremen or team leaders (or department chairs). Finally, at the bottom of the heap is everybody else. The decisions and directives, and observation, in this hierarchical mode of production comes from the top and filters down the to bottom. This hierarchical bureaucratic domineering production process became a model for the organization of society as a whole, a militarized and policed society of supervision and surveillance under the central command of the State. Marx likened industrial organization to military organization refering to “an industrialized army of workers” and suggesting that industrial managers had the equivalent function of military officers and that foremen and overseers were akin to N.C.O.s. As in the military the function of the managers (officers) is to command. “The work of supervision becomes their exclusive and established function.” (Marx 1976, 450)

As capitalism developed, the worker began to be replaced by the tool, by the machine, by technology. Whereas before, technology was subservient to the worker, the worker became subservient to technology. Marx saw that, through the process of the industrial revolution, workers became dependent on an assembly line driven by machines.

Taken together, an organized automated system of machines emerged. Information and knowledge about the activity of each component of this automated system needed to be reliably delivered to industrial decision makers. Communication became important in keeping this automated technological bureaucratic machine functioning. Marx saw well before the advent of the computer or any form of broadcast communications, just as the telegraph was emerging, that communication and information technologies were vital to the existence and maintenance of the hierarchical, bureaucratic, domineering, controlling, regulating system of capitalism. Thus we see with Marx how every stage of the advancement of capitalism required technology and used that technology to redefine the worker. From initial rudimentary production to the first signs of automated machine based factories, the instrumentalization of control and domination became more and more sophisticated. Marx was prescient to point to the role that communication and information technology plays in maintaining advanced technological capitalism. Today’s information based economy, fueled by the interests of the military-informational-complex, is a logical extension of these early bureaucratic hierarchical organisms of production. Surveillance, supervision, dominance, control, regulation, these are all characteristics of Information Warfare that have their root in the factory, in the initial production processes, in the separation of “man” from nature, in the enclosure of the commons in which the free peasants were thrust into industry. To understand Information Warfare, possibly the most developed mechanism of social control and manipulation to date, it is necessary to start with an examination of capitalism, the system that gave birth to the current information “revolution” from which Information Warfare evolved.

In The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society, Beniger (1986) noted that the information revolution and the “so-called Information Society” are part of a larger Control Revolution which he defined as:

Rather than focus on what he calls ephemeral or episodic "revolutions" Beniger suggested that the information revolution, and other new phrases or coined terms such as the micro revolution, communications revolution, or third wave, (Toffler and Toffler 1980) ought to be seen as part of a broader and more historic change that occurred in the later part of the 19th century which Beniger thought was a response to a set of conditions that in effect were a "crisis in control." Beniger stated the ability of a society to maintain order and control is a direct function of the degree of communication and information technologies. By crisis of control Beniger meant the problem of managing and coordinating the functions of industrialized economies. Differentiation and specialization of functions within capitalist economies required a greater system of information gathering, processing, and dissemination in order for smooth operation to occur. Beniger claimed that the complexity of capitalist organization began to overshadow the complexity of the military system of command and control during this period. The increased complexity of capitalist organization gave rise to a demand for more sophisticated forms of communication technology. In this sense, perhaps, we can see how these technologies are not neutral, but very much embedded in capitalist organization and in capitalist social relations.
On Technology and Domination

Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment (1996) is the first major work coming from the left, from a radical perspective, to critique the Enlightenment and modernism. (Kellner 1997) They wrote this piece in the dark days of World War II, when it was still unclear whether Hitler and Fascism would win or lose. The basic premise of this work is that the Enlightenment had inverted and turned in on itself. The notion that through the application of science and technology society would progress forward for the good of all became its opposite; science and technology became tools for social control and subjugation.

They saw that while certain aspects of reason, science, technology, knowledge served the public good, that the overriding phenomena was one in which these served to create a “technical apparatus” through which to bureaucratically administer society. In their view, the project of the Enlightenment had ended in disaster. Rather than technology being a source of liberation, technology had become a source of political power, a tool for implementing mass destruction and genocide, as evidenced by the atrocities of World War II.

This technological political dominance, according to Horkheimer and Adorno, was rooted in the economic grip that elites held over the rest of society.

In One Dimensional Man, Marcuse (1991), elaborated on the assertions Adorno and Horkheimer made in Dialectic of Enlightenment, writing that “technology serves to institute new, more effective, and more pleasant forms of social control and cohesion” (Marcuse 1991, xlvii) and that “the technological society is a system of domination which operates already in the concept and construction of techniques. (Marcuse 1991, xlviii)

Marcuse also mirrored a rather bleak perspective of Adorno and Horkheimer that resistance under this technological regime is near impossible, as evidenced in his statement that, “In the medium of technology, culture, politics, and the economy merge into an omnipresent system which swallows up or repulses all alternatives.” (Marcuse 1991, xlviii)

Marcuse believed that with technology at its base “contemporary society tends to be totalitarian.” (Marcuse 1991, 3) Marcuse argued that the State, via the acquisition and application of science and technology, is indebted to technology for enabling it to remain powerful and in control. Technology has been imperative to modern governments’ existence.

Again, as in Marx, Marcuse pointed to the roots of technological domination in the domination of “man” over nature. Marcuse stated it is not simply that technology is a vehicle for domination, but that it is domination, in and of itself. He means that technology is not merely a tool that is value-free, but rather that technology is laden with negative chararcteristics that stem for the social relations within which technology arose. In Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, Postman (1993) provided a more contemporary critique. He pointed to what in communication studies is known as the “knowledge gap” theory. Scales of access or non-access to technology separates and divides society into information haves and have-nots. In this way, technology as power serves to perpetuate a hierarchical system ruled by technological elites or technocrats. Information and knowledge are forms of capital. Postman referred to a straightforward process around technology, information, and control. The supply of more information demands more control. This thought can be applied to the Internet. Its rapid expansion has been accompanied by all sorts of controls ranging from new government regulations to new devices designed to limit and constrict certain types of information. Examples are government legislation aimed at controlling pornography and the promotion of technical devices designed to block programming that may be sensitive to children. Another important limiting factor is simply economics. People with less money have less access to information on the Internet because they can not afford to purchase computers or pay monthly Internet service provider fees.

A more fundamental argument of Postman’s suggests that we, as humans, through the development of computer technology have become more like machines. We are becoming nothing more that some form of cyborgian information processors and the nature which we manipulate is our raw information.

Diverging slightly from the rather pessimistic, but perhaps realistic, views on technology of Horkheimer and Adorno, Marcuse, and Postman, Kellner (1995), in Media Culture, does allow for the fact that the new information technologies have some liberatory potential, but cautions against its overarching use for surveillance, control, indoctrination and manipulation.

On the one hand, novel media technologies provide more diversity of choice, more possibility of autonomy over culture, and more openings for the intervention of alternative culture and ideas. Yet the new computer technologies also provide new forms of surveillance and control, with electronic eyes and systems in the workplace providing a contemporary incarnation of Big Brother. The new media technologies also provide powerful forms of social control through more efficient, subtly concealed techniques of indoctrination and manipulation. (Kellner 1995, 16)

On Surveillance

In one of the first works on surveillance that addresses computer technology, Private Lives and Public Surveillance, Rule (1973) introduced the concepts of powers of control, systems of control, and systems of surveillance. These “systems of mass surveillance and control” rely “heavily upon documentation” (Rule, p. 29), of which Rule claimed computer technology plays a significant role, but not a determining one. Rule completed this work in the early 1970s prior to the emergence of the so-called information revolution. He did not place as much emphasis on the computer in systems of control and domination as he might have done today, stating that the computer is only one of several factors, that “the growth of mass surveillance thrives on a variety of increased efficiencies in operations, of which the computer is only one.” (Rule 1973, 277)

One thing mentioned in Rule’s work, which is at the root of later thoughts on the dialectics of control and resistance, is the idea that technology can be used for both social control as well as evasion.

In his writing about evasion, Rule seemed to be concerned more with, for example, the use of technology to avoid detection by law enforcement. The term evasion implies some sense of wrong-doing. Suggesting ways in which technology can be used as a tool for resistance, liberation, or freedom, has a more positive connotation than as a “technology of evasion.” In Rule, we see the contrary of social control being described in a pejorative sense as “misbehaviour”. Nevertheless, at least Rule opened up the discussion to allow for resistant applications of technology. His view in this regard moved away from the more totalitarian perspectives on technology and domination expressed in the previous section. Thus, not only does the United States have the technological prowess to monitor the Zapatistas, the Zapatistas and their supporters have the technology to broadly inform and elicit support.

Foucault, on the other hand, while offering instructive insights and explanations of surveillance and power, persisted in this mode of thinking that sees little room for any kind of oppositional use of new technologies. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault (1977), primarily in the section titled Discipline, introduced his conception of surveillance which he illustrated with the model of the Panopticon, based on Bentham’s 19th century circular prison design. In this model, “inspection functions ceaselessly. The gaze is alert everywhere” (Foucault 1977, 195).

The word surveillance appears relentlessly in this work: “constant surveillance” (Foucault 1977, 199), “generalized surveillance” (209), “urban surveillance” (213), “permanent, exhaustive, omnipresent surveillance” (214), “the daily exercise of surveillance” (217), “total and detailed surveillance” (220), “hierarchical surveillance, continuous registration, perpetual assessment and classification” (220)

Foucault attributed the administration of control and domination to surveillance, through observation. This mechanism of observation induces power.

Foucault’s mention of “eyes that must see without being seen” clearly can be viewed in relation to remote satellite sensing technology, as we shall see an integral aspect of Information Warfare capability. Even though he wrote Discipline and Punish in the 1970s when computer-based military technology was already in existence and many of the Star Wars technologies that appeared in the 1980s were on the drawing board, Foucault did not refer to computers or to sophisticated military surveillance. Yet he did discuss a conceptual architecture of surveillance and power that does have analogous application to computerized military surveillance systems. For instance, Foucault stated that in the “spatial ‘nesting’ of hierarchicalized surveillance” (Foucault 1977, 172), the “apertures for continuous surveillance” (172), form “an organization in depth of surveillance and control, an intensification and ramification of power” (198) which creates “the capillary functioning of power” (198) Networks of satellites, surveillance planes, radar stations can be seen as forming this spatial nesting.

The questions raised below in this paragraph from Discipline and Punish regarding how to establish a “network of communication” between the “observation machines” seem to have been answered with the application of networks of computer and telecommunication technologies.

Again, here Foucault speaks of surveillance functioning in a lateral network that doesn’t work exclusively in a traditional top-down hierarchical manner. This horizontal, lateral, bottom-up network design is very much seen in the Internet. Although Foucault was clearly not writing about new information technologies in connection with surveillance, some of the language he uses can be applied to these new forms. Perhaps one thing that Foucault wasn’t imagining is how resistance is able to operate, at least so far, within these lateral computer-based communication networks. Foucault was describing more how forces of domination and of power were able to filter laterally. He wrote: The circuits of communication referenced here are circuits among the purveyors of the “generalizable mechanism of ‘panopticism’” (Foucault 1977, 216) But circuits of communication are also used by forces of resistance to accumulate knowledge that stands in the way of control and domination.

In A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism, Giddens (1995) criticized Foucault’s theories on surveillance by stating that Foucault “links the expansion of surveillance with the rise of capitalism and the modern state” but in a very general way. (Giddens 1995, 171) He stated that Foucault “draws too close an association between prison and the factory” (Giddens 1995, 172) and that “in regarding the prison (in the form of Bentham’s plan for the Panopticon) as the exemplar of power as discipline, Foucault produces too negative a view of ‘bourgeois freedoms’, and of the liberal-reformist zeal they helped to inspire.” (Giddens 1995, 172)

Giddens put forth a simple two-part definition of surveillance.

Unlike Foucault, Giddens did mention computer-based technology in the context of surveillance. But much like Rule, Giddens saw computerization as only one aspect of new surveillance, believing that the history of surveillance is inextricably linked to the rise and development of capitalism. Continuing with this point, and sounding like Beniger, Giddens added: We can see there are competing perspectives regarding the centrality of capitalist development to the emergence of the computer-based surveillance society, the so-called information society, that has given rise to the doctrine and strategy of Information Warfare. Some theorists have downplayed the role of capitalism, like Foucault, and others, like Giddens, see it as extremely central.

In Information Technology: A Luddite Analysis, Webster and Robins (1986) incorporated Foucault’s Panopticism into an analysis of new computer-based information technologies. They believed that new communication and information technologies are supporting the lateral spread of power and control, but that unlike Foucault’s interpretation of Bentham’s Panopticon model, new technologies have transcended the physical constraints and have elevated Panopticism into the realm of cyberspace.

Even though Webster and Robins claimed the information revolution has aided in moving surveillance and discipline from the prison and factory to the social totality, they don’t make a claim that this new technology of control and domination is totalitarian, without avenues for resistance and subterfuge. While these authors conceptualized the wired society in a general sense, they also pointed specifically to the military and the way in which new information technology have been instrumental in creating the system of Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I). It is C3I – having added the word ‘Computer’ now known as C4I –that is an important antecedent to the doctrine of Information Warfare. In Surveillance, Power, and Modernity, Dandeker (1990) expanded the argument concerning the relationship of the military to new systems of bureaucratized surveillance. Unlike others who focus more on the significance of capitalist organizational needs or on some modified version of Panopticism dealing with systems of power and discipline, Dandeker saw the organization of war and the military as central explanatory elements. Dandeker commented on a specialization of bureaucratic organization based around the division between internal and external control needs of the state; on the one hand, the armed forces, and on the other, the police. It is unclear, though, what this differentiation in application of surveillance and control means for the particular technologies used in that work. In the war on drugs, for example, similar surveillance or interdiction technology is employed internally by police agencies as is employed externally by the armed forces. Perhaps the difference is just one of scale or degree.

Dandeker, as Webster and Robins did, pointed to C3I and the electronic battlefield. It seems this is one area where in the United States the armed forces has much greater experience than domestic police forces. Although it wouldn’t be surprising if some domestic policy makers are pushing for the idea of electronic battlefields in the heart of U.S. cities.

In The Mode of Information, Poster (1990) seemed to draw on Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment when he summarized the advances made by technology and progress. He echoed the idea that the liberatory potential of science has turned in on itself and become a form of domination. Poster also commented that Foucault did not take notice of the new technical conditions of surveillance in his analysis. But Poster did take these new technologies into account and asserted that they have helped to move the argument for the model of the Panopticon to that of the Superpanopticon. The difference being that unlike Foucault’s model, the Superpanopticon has no real physical definitions but exists more as a cyberarchitecture. In Computers, Surveillance and Privacy, Lyon and Zureik (1996) examined the relationships between new technology, surveillance and social control. By new technology they meant “primarily those information and communication technologies dependent upon microelectronics.” (Lyon and Zureik 1996, 2) Their understanding of surveillance was this: Lyon and Zureik place social theory of surveillance into three categories: one influenced by Marxian ideas, a second in the Weberian tradition, and the third and most recent a Foucauldian approach. The first category focuses on capitalism, the second on rationalization, and the third on power. Regarding the Marxian approaches to surveillance and social theory these authors said “ it is all too easy to use capitalism as a catchall explanation, without, for instance, noting ways in which bureaucratic and technical logic themselves may play a relatively independent role.” (Lyon and Zureik 1996, 6) Their critique of Weberian perspective was that it is “sometimes – erroneously – associated with a gratuitous emphasis on technical change.” Adding that, “although a Weberian approach would indeed accent the unique contribution made by specific new technologies, it is a mistake to equate this with a form of technological determinism.” (Lyon and Zureik 1996, 7) Finally on Foucault, Lyon and Zureik pointed out that Foucault’s ominous portrayals of total social control leave little room for consideration of resistance, stating that “Foucault’s stress on ubiquitous power raises questions of resistance. What can be done? Without some theory of countervailing powers of resistance, at which Foucault only hints, paranoia remains but a short step away.” (Lyon and Zureik 1996, 8)

Seeing the necessity and validity of a synthetic social theory of surveillance that combines these three traditions Lyon and Zureik noted Anthony Giddens who they said “as a sympathetic critic of all three theoretical traditions, has attempted to produce an intelligent synthesis of the best of each.” One concept they borrowed from Giddens that has relevance to this thesis is the “dialectic of control” which “exists in all such situations, giving subjects the chance to ‘answer back’ to their ‘surveillers’” (Lyon and Zureik 1996, 8) In the case of Information Warfare, it may not be so much a matter of answering back, but clearly there are both dominant and resistance uses of communication and information technologies. With respect to new technologies, there is a dialectic, or a pendulum, that swings back and forth between social control and social liberation. In some senses resistance groups have had the upper hand with their ability to use the Internet as an effective means of political communication.

Lyon and Zureik emphasized that surveillance is not solely a function of new information technology, but that these new technologies are surveillance enhancers.
Because surveillance is a central component of the modern state and the institutions of industrial capitalism, it is incorrect to think of it as a twentieth-century phenomenon made possible solely by the new information technology and the computerization of the so-called postindustrial society. To view surveillance in this light is to subscribe to technological determinism and to elevate technology above its place; it is to argue that control by means of information is associated with the decline of industrialism and the emergence of postindustrialism. (Lyon and Zureik 1996, 11)

On Simulation

In The Simulation of Surveillance, Bogard (1996), drew primarily on the “poststructuralist or postmodernist discourse” of Foucault and on the “philosophical-literary writings” of Baudrillard (Bogard 1996, 5) to make an argument that goes beyond more traditional notions of surveillance and moves to newer territory of simulation.

Bogard defined surveillance as:

Making a distinction from simulation as: Similar to Lyon and Zureik and others, Bogard adopted Foucault’s Panoptic model. But in doing so he introduced a new concept of the Panoptic imaginary, which relates to his ideas on simulation. Bogard called for “a new critical discourse of social control,” one that “operates universally” involving “all ways of electronically mediated feeling and perceiving.” He stated that new technologies “sever us from older forms of control” and that they project control “onto the plane of simulation.” (Bogard 1996, 77) Bogard looked to the military as the paradigm for new forms of social control and domination based on simulation. Like others, especially those writing about the emergence of Information Warfare, Bogard points to the Gulf War as an important turning point and as a model as to how simulation technologies can be employed. In writing about the possible elimination of the human soldier from the battlefield, where the first steps to this are better human-machine prosthetic interfaces, Bogard eluded to Information Warfare, but without making specific reference to it.

On Hegemony

Although not concerned with new technologies, this next section provides important theoretical underpinnings of this thesis. After all, it is regional hegemony throughout the Americas that the United States seeks to maintain. The Drug War may be viewed as a vehicle to transmit new Information Warfare technologies, but it is through this military technology that the United States has the means to act as regional hegemon.

Below are historical conceptions of hegemony. Perhaps the most useful interpretation of hegemony, for the purposes of examining the Drug War and Information Warfare in Mexico, is the last by Agnew and Corbridge because it deals with the subject on a more global or transnational level.

In Gramsci's Concept of 'Egemonia', Williams (1960) offered an early definition and understanding of hegemony, a concept developed by Gramsci beginning in his Prison Notebooks.

Based on this, we can speak of capitalism or technology as examples of an hegemonic “way of life and thought” that has come to dominate and be “diffused throughout society.”

In Hegemony and Ideology in Gramsci, Mouffe (1979) elaborated on the ideological component of hegemony, the way in which the ideas of the dominant classes become fused with the popular will.

In News as Hegemonic Reality, Rachlin (1988) continued attention on the workings of hegemonic ideology and on how the social context from which we gain the tools necessary to understand and interpret the world is anything but neutral. The media leave the populace predisposed to accept arguments that justify the use of the military in combating drugs. In Mastering Space: Hegemony, Territory and International Political Economy, Agnew and Corbridge (1995) used the term hegemony to speak more about a global geopolitical order rather than focus solely on hegemony as it relates to simply one State. For them the current geopolitical order is dominated by the economics of neoliberalism or what they call transnational liberalism. This transnational liberalism or “new ideology of the market” is being embedded in nation states and reproduced globally by the “circuits of capital.” A number of processes are at work determining the course of this new global information economy. Note that Agnew and Corbridge refer to new technologies as central to the global transformation of capital currently underway.


Capitalism is the fundamental system of social control and domination, the system within which other forms of social control and domination exist. Capitalist domination began with the domination of “man” over nature and continued with the direct control and supervision of workers functioning as machines in the process of production. Capitalism’s growth required hierarchical bureaucracies to administer and manage the increasing complexity of capitalist organizations. Communication and information technologies became inseparable from these bureaucratized institutions of capital. In addition to serving communication needs between and within different sectors of the economy, these technologies also began to aid the process of surveillance, supervision, and regulation that became necessary to control the workers in the production process.

New microprocessor-based communication and information technologies aid both in the organization of capital and in the organization of the workforce needed to maintain capitalism. In the sense that the current organizational needs of capital and capitalism have their roots in the late 19th century crisis in control, the new technologies are not part of a new information revolution or third wave, but rather are part of a continuation of a Control Revolution. These new technologies do not enable fundamental changes in the way society and economies are organized. Instead they add to the ability of those in power to continue to maintain order and control in society.

That technology would serve the interests of social control and domination can be said to be an inherent feature of technology, science, reason, and knowledge. The society in which we live, out of which new microprocessor-based communication and information technology emerged, is, as a technological society, with eroding rights of privacy, a system of domination and control. Technology is not merely a vehicle for domination but is a form of domination in and of itself. Having grown out of capitalist social and economic relations, and out of a system of science that is embedded in capitalism, technology can not be value-free, but instead is laden with repressive characteristics. An even more critical perspective suggests that we, as humans, have let technology take over. No longer is technology a tool in the hands of humans, but conversely humans are becoming tools in the “hands” of technology.

Given these parameters of a totalitarian technological society in which technology not only serves as a vehicle of control and domination, but embodies social control and domination, it is difficult to account for possibilities of resistance. Nevertheless, some critical perspectives have opened up the discourse on technology to include the dialectic of control and resistance, to include a discussion of how new technologies, even given this bleak framework, offer the potential for resistance and opposition.

Arising out of the factory, but perhaps even more so out of the prison and other disciplinary institutions, such as the police or the military, has been the need to supervise, the need for surveillance. Critical perspectives on surveillance are appropriate to incorporate into to new critiques of communication and information technologies. It is through the application of these new microprocessor-based technologies that massive quantities of information concerning individuals can be collected, processed, and stored. Moreover, it is through these new technologies that individuals or other societies can be more accurately observed, monitored, and regulated.

A significant contribution that new microprocessor-based communication and information technologies have made to the field of surveillance is to have eliminated the physical constraints imposed by real walls and barriers. Within cyberarchitectures and virtual terrains surveillance can take on truly omnipotent forms. The permanent gaze of the watchful eye is no longer human, but of an electronic eye that can be as near as a video camera mounted inside an ATM machine or as far as a remote sensing satellite miles above the earth’s surface.

Moving from surveillance to simulation technologies we see more closely how microprocessor-based communication and information technology is applied to systems of control and domination that have direct military usefulness. It is in this brief examination of simulation, an offshoot of surveillance, that brings us closer to the conceptualizations of Information Warfare. Just as the theorist on simulation draws on the Gulf War for examples of the new methods of simulation used in war, so too do Information Warfare theorists hark back to the Gulf War as a significant milestone.

The purpose of the United States, and its proxy governments in Latin America and elsewhere, in acquiring Information Warfare capability in the form of new surveillance and simulation technologies, is to maintain its regional and global hegemony. In international relations, these new technologies are simply tools to enable the United States to maintain dominance and control.

While it is true that some of the critical perspectives presented in this chapter view technology as a totalitarian and seamless system in which resistance is near impossible, the perspectives that suggest a dialectic of control and resistance are more appealing. Table 1 outlines some of the binary concepts that come from looking beyond the totalitarian understandings of technology. Where there is control there will be resistance; where there are efforts to dominate there will be efforts to liberate; where there are institutions of hegemony there will be counter-hegemonic institutions; under the watchful eye of surveillance devices there will be those who become invisible.


Typology of a Technological Dialectic of Control and Resistance
    power over 
    liberation: freedom 
    invisibility: deception 

The characteristics noted in the column to the left in Table 1 are key in the Information Warfare discourse. The chief proponents of this way of thinking exist within the military, centralized vertical hierarchies, in which uniformity and homogeneity are the norm. Through technology Information Warfare adherents seek to dominate, control, and maintain hegemony. The characteristics noted in the column to the right are represented in resistance movements, like the Zapatistas and the pro Zapatista groups around the world. These people are organized in decentralized, horizontal, self-regulating networks. They too use new technologies, such as the Internet, not for control, but for resistance and as tools for liberation.

In the next chapter differing views of Information Warfare are presented, followed by a description of some of the key technologies that enable Information Warfare capability. Although the focus of this thesis is more on how these technologies are being transmitted to Mexico under the guise of the Drug War, it is important to remember that one of the main reasons that Mexico is seeking to gain military prowess is that it faces serious internal threats to its security. Even though it is not the central purpose of this thesis to demonstrate that the build-up in the Mexican military is a response to armed guerrilla movements, it is worth noting that here. The reason being is that it illustrates this dialectic of control and resistance. It can be argued that through the propagandistic use of new microprocessor-based communication and information technology in the form of the Net that the Zapatista movement has been able to successfully ward off an outright invasion by the Mexican armed forces. Perhaps, in seeing the success the Zapatistas have had in exploiting Information Warfare technologies, the Mexican government, in close cooperation with the United States government, has decided to beef up its own Information Warfare capability. This is a speculative statement, but one that exemplifies this dialectic of control and resistance. When an adversary uses information technology to its advantage and achieves information dominance then the other party seeks measures to circumvent or reestablish dominance. It is unclear for how long Netwar actors in the pro Zapatista movement will be able to maintain the upper hand as the Mexican State develops its own Information Warfare capability. The pro Zapatista movement or movements that evolve from it in the future will then have to look to other technological means to exploit. In the mean time, we can take comfort in knowing that there still are avenues for resistance and that the developers of Information Warfare doctrine and strategy have yet to cast a seamless technological web.