Buffy the Terrorism Slayer
July 5, 2002 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Buffy the Terrorism Slayer (PDF link) The Center For Strategic & International Studies, which appears to be, like, a bunch of grown-up ex-senators and accused war criminals and former top spooks and such, released this white paper late last September.
Any structured intellectual approach to describing this situation — and planning for it — is so uncertain that a valid structure can only be developed as an exercise in complexity or "chaos" theory. I, however, would like you to think about the biological threat in more mundane terms. I am going to suggest that you think about biological warfare in terms of a TV show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," that you think about the world of biological weapons in terms of the "Buffy Paradigm," and that you think about many of the problems in the proposed solutions as part of the "Buffy Syndrome."
I am one vindicated overgrown Buffy fan. (Via Need To Know.)
posted by nicwolff (14 comments total)
Will there be bunnies?
posted by ebarker at 6:08 PM on July 5, 2002

yeah, and what are all those carrots for? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?
posted by willnot at 6:13 PM on July 5, 2002

Ah, a Buffy-related link... hmm, why am I not surprised to find this posted by Nic? ;-)

Anyway, it looks like the authors of that paper cribbed a bit from this essay, in particular this bit about the ineffectiveness of traditional methods of warfare in the Buffy universe:

Despite the reason and planning of its formal methods, or even as a result of that mechanized approach, adult rationalism leads to a kind of suburban fascism, to violently irrational effects. In recent episodes, an urge to rationalize the demon-hunt governs the Initiative; they attempt to fight monsters by employing scientific methods, assuming predictability and adopting a policy of maximization: the results are insane.

This, from a site that calls itself "The On-Line International Journal of Buffy Studies." Footnotes aplenty.
posted by nstop at 6:36 PM on July 5, 2002

Why would they choose the same acronym as Canada's intelligence service?
posted by transient at 6:48 PM on July 5, 2002

They're not just cute like everybody supposes...they've got those beady eyes and twitchy little noses.
posted by bingo at 8:09 PM on July 5, 2002

I gotta get one of those think-tank jobs.
posted by crunchburger at 8:17 PM on July 5, 2002

I think we need to ask ourselves... WWBD?
posted by Jubey at 10:22 PM on July 5, 2002

or maybe midgets
posted by billder at 10:57 PM on July 5, 2002

I'd like to test that theory.
posted by prolific at 12:13 AM on July 6, 2002

I wonder what Anya would make of Oolong.
posted by moss at 1:51 AM on July 6, 2002

I suppose Al Queda could be classified as a Hostile Subterranean. Does that make John Ashcroft the hunky, but boring paramilitary commando sent out to fight them?
posted by stevis at 2:06 AM on July 6, 2002

"What's the point of having an angry monkey if you're not going to fight it?" --akio
posted by kliuless at 6:36 AM on July 6, 2002

My dad went to school with Tony Cordesmann (who is one of the more frequent talking heads news shows pull out during military operations). If you've seen him, you know he's a gray-haired grandfatherly fellow, invariably in a suit, who looks a little like George Plimpton.

Groups such as CSIS, which is a bipartisan think-tank (not clear from nicwolff's chosen links), and in its own description "interdisciplinary", are attempts to create a constant knowledge base of intelligence, strategic information, and international relations such that there is a pool of qualified people to take policy jobs in any new administration. They also get to discuss things which would be verboten to people in official positions.

This is a fairly good paper and the Buffy business is only a small part of it, not really an important theme so much as a hook. It's probably a bit of a lark; perhaps Cordesmann wrote it as the result of a confab with some of the younger CSIS staffers.
posted by dhartung at 9:39 AM on July 6, 2002

Unfortunately, the "Buffy Paradigm" is largely incorrect.

Arcane knowledge is always inadequate and fails to predict, detect, and properly characterize the threat.

Season Two: Giles is fully aware of Angelus and Dru's plan to awaken Acathla, and knows that only Angel's blood will do the trick, while also being aware of the consequences of Acathla's awakening: that being the world sucked into hell.

It is never clear whether the threat is internal, from an individual, or from an outside organization.

Season Five: Obviously, the threat is Glory and her desire to obtain the key to return to her hell dimension. Buffy is well aware of this fact early in the season and takes proactive steps to keep Dawn safe.

All efforts at planning a coherent strategy collapse in the face of tactical necessity and the need to deal with unexpected facts on the ground.

Season Three: Xander coordinates an offensive against the Mayor and the vampires that they expected to arrive at graduation. Buffy anticipates all of the Mayor's actions, even to the point of setting up the bomb in the library to dispatch him.

Season Four: The Scoobs meld into SuperBuffy to destroy Adam... as coherent a strategy as any, I think.

Season Five: Every Scoob has a defined role when they arrive at Glory's "temple." Xander even forfeits the fight against the crazies as he sits in the crane, awaiting Buffy to position Glory for the wrecking ball.

Finally: The scenarios are unpredictable and have very unclear motivation. Any effort to predict threat motivation and behavior in detail before the event does at least as much.

The motivations of all of the Big Bads have been rampantly obvious. Angelus and Dru wanted to suck the world into hell. The Mayor wanted to ascend and become fully demonic. Glory wanted to return to her hell dimension.

As for predicting behavior, again, Giles was able to discern from ancient texts (his arcane knowledge) the events of Acathla's awakening, the Mayor's ascention, and Glory's ritual bloodletting of Dawn accurately so that the Scoobs could stop the events from transpiring.

I mean, I agree with Dan that the Buffy theme is little more than a new angle of looking at things. I just wish the paradigm was more solid than this.
posted by Psionic_Tim at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2002

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