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Nonviolent Technology in Tehran

Iranian doctored missilesThe last few days have borne troubling omens for the future. The American and Israeli militaries have been conducting exercises that look a whole lot like strikes against Iran, and in response, Iran launched some of its old rockets in a show of force. (When one of them malfunctioned, the Iranians doctored the official photos, as shown, to give the appearance of success.) The closer these countries move to conflict, the less their leaders seem capable of thinking up sensible options or of seeing past the urge to obliterate each other needlessly. It has been depressing. At the same time, I’ve been visiting home in Washington, D.C., a place that stinks of geopolitics and makes it hard to think about anything else.

Being home also reminds me of a pet project I’ve been playing around with for about a year: DoNT, the Division of Nonviolent Technology. The idea with DoNT (rhymes with “font”) is to develop a military contracting company that offers nonviolent solutions military problems that can outperform and outsell traditional destructive technologies. It means to change the culture of the military industry from within. DoNT’s motto goes, “Security solutions for a world worth securing.”

In celebration of the present dour conditions, I’d like to offer three simple DoNT-style ideas for resolving the crisis in Iran, with an eye toward a future worth having.

1. Globalize missile defense. Remember the missile defense fiasco that the Bush Administration was so excited about way back in early 2001? Well, fears of terrorism has gotten the program up and running again, which is infuriating the Russians in particular. Despite how the United States is wielding it, though, missile defense is essentially a nonviolent technology. Instead of using it as an offense weapon, the U.S. should spearhead an international effort to provide missile defense for the entire world. Control of the system would be decentralized, ensuring that no one country or bloc of countries could prevent it from being used. Ballistic missiles would become an essentially irrelevant technology, and the likelihood of nuclear war would be vastly reduced. DoNT can offer international legal consulting to make this project possible, as well as brokering contracts between technology providers and local industries around the world to make global missile defense a truly global endeavor.

2. Negotiated disarmament. Particularly with a global missile defense shield underway, the U.S. will be in a position to commit to large-scale disarmament of its intercontinental ballistic missiles and their nuclear warheads. This can be used as an honest bargaining chip to encourage nations like North Korea and Iran to abandon their own nuclear programs. Dismantling American missiles would serve as an important diplomatic gesture as we broker disarmament in trouble zones like the India-Pakistan border and Israel. DoNT can facilitate safe, ecologically-sane methods for disassembling the weapons, while providing jobs to people in areas threatened by the silo closures.

3. Emergency cultural exchange. Sensing the rise in hostilities, the State Department and Pentagon should sponsor aggressive programs of cultural exchange between the U.S. and rouge states. In addition to a drastically expanded Human Terrain Teams program where there are military operatives, funding will be available for media personnel, artists, and scholars to travel to these states. High-visibility venues in broadcast media and traveling roadshows will facilitate the dissemination of what they produce back home. People of these professions from the same states will be invited to travel freely in the U.S. for equivalent purposes. DoNT can administer these grants and provide on-site services for participants the emergency exchange programs such as translation, medical care, and local contacts.

See more from DoNT at http://dont.smallsclone.com.